Reports from local divers that scallop beds off the Mahurangi Coast area already suffering the ill-effects of commercial dredging operations so early in the season are cause for justifiable anger (see page 9).
That it should have happened is entirely predictable given dredging operations have been banned off the coast of the Coromandel but there has been no corresponding reduction in the 50-tonne quota that commercial operators can take from the Hauraki Gulf as a whole. That means the devastation that has been wrought by dredging near the Coromandel is now inevitably going to be more concentrated off the coast of Mahurangi .
Of course, commercial fishers need to earn a crust like everybody else, but they should not be allowed to do so at the expense of local businesses in Mahurangi and our fragile marine environment.
The Hauraki Gulf is already in dire straits. In this week’s Hauturu column (see page 27) Lyn Wade points out the dramatic, visible decline in sea life that has occurred within just the last 10 years, and she highlights the knock-on effect to other parts of the environment. For example, when fish are depleted around Little Barrier Island, seabirds must fly further to find food to feed their chicks. Therefore, they rear fewer chicks.
Restoring the Gulf represents a mammoth task ahead that will no doubt take years. But the least we can do in the meantime is not make the situation worse. Dredging, both commercial and recreational, should be banned.
Any doubt about whether Mahurangi is the best place to live in NZ was dispelled late last month, when a Mahurangi Matters reporter decided to treat himself to a coffee at the Fresh Café in Warkworth. Fumbling to find his debit card with which to pay, a smiling staff member assured him that would not be necessary. Early that morning, another customer had paid for the next 50 coffees for those who came in afterwards. Such unwarranted kindness brought a lump to our reporter’s throat. In these times of Covid, what an act to lift the spirits? Thank you, thank you, whoever you are.