The Government has announced it will ban bottom fishing from the vast bulk of the Hauraki Gulf as part of its plan to better protect the 1.2-million-hectare marine park for future generations, with public consultation set to open tomorrow.
Options announced today show bottom-trawling and Danish seining could be banned from up to 89% of the marine park.
“Aucklanders and others have called for greater protection for their beloved big blue backyard, the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana. We have listened and we have acted,” Oceans and Fisheries Minister, Rachel Brooking said.
“The Gulf is a taonga with deep rooted historical importance for tangata whenua, a vital part of our society and of our tourism, transport and seafood sectors, with an economic value of $100 billion. But it’s in trouble, and we have to strike the right balance between being able to use it, and making sure it’s healthy and available for our grandchildren.
“At the moment, bottom-trawling and Danish seining are banned in just over a quarter of the Gulf’s waters. Today, I am announcing options that would see this ban go from current protection levels, of just over a quarter, to up to nine-tenths.”
The trawling ban was foreshadowed earlier this month when Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced plans to create 19 new marine protection areas in the Gulf.
“At the same time, I released the new Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan – the country’s first area-specific, ecologically based fisheries plan,” Rachel Brooking said.
“The plan overturns the presumption that bottom-trawling and Danish seining can be used everywhere except in specified areas.
“Instead, they will be banned everywhere except in very specific and limited places, called trawl corridors, or Bottom Fishing Access Zones. Today I’m announcing the options for those corridors and inviting people to have their say from tomorrow on which option they support,” Minister Brooking said.
The opening of public consultation on the trawl corridors comes as the Government prepares to debate the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana Marine Protection Bill in Parliament today for the first time.
“This Bill triples the area in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park under total protection, from just over 6 per cent to about 18 per cent,” said Conservation Minister, Willow-Jean Prime.
“It extends existing marine reserves at Goat Island and Cathedral Cove and creates a new marine protection tool (high protection areas) that recognise kaitiakitanga and cultural practices of tangata whenua.”
Minister Brooking said banning bottom-trawling and Danish seining from the entire Gulf was considered, but there were concerns that boats would simply move to areas outside the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, especially Northland and the Bay of Plenty, putting extra pressure on the fisheries in those areas.
“The Revitalising the Gulf strategy, which looked at the recommendations of the Sea Change report, said it was better to base decisions on where trawling should be allowed on scientific evidence, and protect the benthic areas of the highest ecological significance while allowing trawling in ‘corridors’ where the harm will be limited,” she said.