Monday, July 15, 2024

Government dives deep for Hauraki Gulf future

Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, today joined Conservation Minister, Willow-Jean Prime and Oceans and Fisheries Minister, Rachel Brooking to announce significant new marine protections for the Hauraki Gulf, including a commitment to restrict the practice of bottom trawling and a tripling of the Gulf’s protection areas.

“The Hauraki Gulf – Tīkapa Moana is an absolute treasure and needs to be protected for the enjoyment of future generations,” Mr Hipkins said.

“From Anniversary Day yacht racing to time with families, this beautiful blue backyard is where Kiwis in the region have some of their best experiences.

“It’s also an essential and traditional source of food, and a vital part of our economy for the tourism, transport and seafood sectors, with a recent assessment putting the economic value of the Gulf at $100 Billion.

“The Gulf, however, is at risk and its ecosystems are under immense pressures, causing concerning declines in marine life and sea bird populations. Those who live and work in the Gulf can see it’s changing. There’s more pollution and fewer birds.”

He said today’s announcement follows years of careful work and extensive consultation, and strikes a good balance.

“It will go a long way to protecting the Hauraki Gulf for future generations and backs Auckland as a world-class city and a great place to live,” the PM said.

The Government plans to introduce the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill into Parliament before the House rises, nearly tripling the total area under protection in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park from just over 6% to about 18%.

The Bill includes:

  • Extending the country’s first marine reserve, Cape Rodney – Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island) and Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve, on the Coromandel Peninsula
  • Creating 12 new high protection areas to protect and restore marine ecosystems, while allowing for customary practices of tangata whenua.
  • Five new seafloor protection areas to preserve sensitive seafloor habitats by prohibiting bottom-contact fishing methods and other activities which harm the seafloor.

“The best way to protect this special marine ecosystem is to find conservation solutions which work for everyone – and that’s exactly what this action to revitalise the Gulf does,” Minister Prime said.

A new marine protection tool, the high protection area, will recognise kaitiakitanga and cultural practices of tangata whenua while also meeting strong conservation outcomes, she said.

“We have had significant contributions from those that care deeply about the Gulf with more than 7,500 submissions on the marine protection proposals at the end of last year, and received over 10,000 submissions on the Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan.”

“We’ve heard the community call for marine protection. Sustained action now is critical to ensuring we can continue to share stories of Hauraki’s abundance,” Ms Prime said.

Minister Brooking said the recently approved Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan was the first of its kind.

“Historically, we’ve treated each fish stock as separate, but they’re not.”

“Species like snapper, kingfish, and kahawai all live together in the Gulf, and are affected by local conditions, by the things humans do, and by environmental factors such as climate change.

“The Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan is the first fisheries plan which takes an ecosystems-based approach and is the first one tailored for a specific area. This is a significant move to protect a very special fishery into the future,” Ms Brooking said.

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