Thursday, April 25, 2024

Hauraki Gulf Bill passes first reading

The Government has today moved to protect the Hauraki Gulf for future generations with the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill passing its first reading.

Conservation Minister Willow-Jean Prime said the Bill nearly triples marine protection in the Gulf with 19 new marine protection areas to help safeguard and restore its marine ecosystems for future generations.

“The Bill focuses on at-risk, high value and representative habitats that are home to an enormous variety of marine life,” said Minister Prime.

“It is clear that we need sustained action to protect the Hauraki Gulf. The diverse ecosystems of Auckland’s blue backyard are under pressure, impacting the marine and coastal wildlife we know and love.

“Increasing marine protection for the Gulf will help to heal this damage and revitalise the unique marine space.”

The Bill also supports tangata whenua in their role as kaitiaki and in exercising rangatiratanga and acknowledges the cultural value of Tīkapa Moana.

The introduction of the Bill follows the recently released State of the Gulf Report which documents the ongoing decline of marine health. 

“We have heard the call for a healthier marine environment with more abundant life. This legislation has been shaped by the aspirations of tangata whenua and local communities around Auckland, the Gulf Islands and the Coromandel,” Ms Prime said. 

The Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill includes: 

  • Extending the country’s first marine reserve, Cape Rodney – Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island) and extending Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve, on the Coromandel Peninsula. 
  • Twelve 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. 

“This Bill is an important part of the Labour Government’s plan to protect the Gulf, and fits with my announcement that we will ban bottom-trawling from the vast bulk of the 1.2 million hectare marine park,” said Oceans and Fisheries Minister, Rachel Brooking.

The Bill will now be considered by the Environment Select Committee and provides the opportunity for members of the public to submit their views on the Bill. 

“The Select Committee process gives communities the opportunity to engage and give feedback and I encourage people to get involved in this important process,” Minister Prime said. 

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