Newsletter – October 2023

Your chance to make a real difference!

Have your say on the

Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill

There’s a call out for submissions to the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill. The deadline for submissions is 11.59pm on Wednesday, 1 November 2023.

According to the Bill’s Explanatory Note, “This bill seeks to contribute to the restoration of the health and mauri of the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana. It proposes to do this by establishing 2 marine reserves, 5 seafloor protection areas, and 12 high protection areas in the Hauraki Gulf, and acknowledging customary rights within seafloor protection areas and high protection areas.”

How effective these ‘protection areas’ will be in restoring a damaged, stressed and depleted marine ecosystem is a real concern. ‘Seafloor Protection Areas’, while protecting the seafloor, will not protect the sea above, and the fish species within, from continued over exploitation. Nor will they protect the continued exploitation of marine life, such as crayfish species which inhabits the seafloor.

Similarly ‘High Protection Areas’ while excluding recreation and commercial fishing are reserved for customary fishing. These two functions, ‘protection’ and ‘fishing’ (however it is defined) are somewhat conflicted in our view. Again continued harvesting is likely to continue to impact an already damaged ecosystem. We are not at all opposed to customary fishing areas but we question whether they can be defined as ‘High Protection Areas’.

Just as we would expect on land, for example native forests and wetlands, a joined-up holistic approach is needed to achieve full habitat and wildlife protection and restoration. No-take marine reserves fulfil that function.

And herein lies the problem: the Bill will introduce no new marine reserves in the Hauraki Gulf. The ‘2 marine reserves’ mentioned (section 10) will be extensions to the existing Cape Rodney to Okakari Point, (Goat Island, Leigh) and Whanganui a Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserves. This, despite the clear and urgent crisis of collapsing biodiversity well-recorded and universally acknowledged in New Zealand environmental circles. And the fact that we know marine reserves are far and away the most effective method to restore marine biodiversity. See No-take marine reserves are the most effective protected areas in the ocean, a paper by Dr Enric Sala and Dr Sylvaine Giakoumi from the ICES Journal 2018.

Two marine reserve extensions, given this crisis, is totally insufficient. After almost 10 years of official ‘Sea Change’, ‘Revitalising the Gulf’ and finally this Marine Protection Bill process, still only less than half of 1% of the waters of the Hauraki Gulf is planned to be fully protected.

The great omission in the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill is that it completely overlooks:

  • the furthest-advanced marine protection proposal in the Hauraki Gulf, the Hākaimangō-Matiatia (North West Waiheke) Marine Reserve.
  • This community-led marine reserve proposal was formally notified under section 5 of the Marine Reserves Act in early 2022, drawing c1300 public submissions, with a remarkable 93% in support, and 95% support from Waiheke Islanders.
  • This proposed no-take marine reserve at 2350 ha would be the largest in the Hauraki Gulf, at one stroke almost doubling the size of the area of totally protected marine environment in the Hauraki Gulf.
  • The proposed marine reserve would protect an important area of the central the Hauraki Gulf which lies in a central ecological transition zone between the inner and outer Gulf and of which no other representative example is protected.
  • According to marine scientists the area has high biological values, remarkable geology, with intact kelp reefs, including one of the few identified breeding areas for rare Packhorse Crayfish inside the Hauraki Gulf.
  • The area is an important feeding ground for seabirds and marine mammals and could become much more so.
  • Recent research by Auckland University marine biologists has revealed marine reserves provide significant scale of recruitment for snapper fish populations and by implication for a much wide range of marine biota. “Empirical evidence shows that 10.6% of newly settled juvenile snappers sampled up to 55 km outside of the Cape Rodney – Okakari Point [Goat Island] marine reserve were the offspring of adult snappers from the marine reserve.”
  • The research also found this remarkable snapper recruitment function (and likely other biota) creates an economic value of $15m per annum to the wider recreation and commercial fishery. We believe that much larger proposed northwest Waiheke reserve will almost certainly function in a similar way.
  • The proposed Hākaimangõ-Matiatia (northwest Waiheke) marine reserve is within an easy 10-minute walk from the Matiatia ferry/bus terminal, (35 minutes from downtown Auckland). The unique proximity of good public transport services and excellent walking tracks makes this marine reserve very convenient for scientific research and visits by students and educational groups, and unlike the other ’protected areas’ in the Bill uniquely accessible for the general public.
  • Finally this totally protected Marine Reserve would enable a unique opportunity to for scientific study as a control site for nearby fished and customary fished areas of the Hauraki Gulf.

Please note. The Bill (section 11) states that the two proposed marine reserve extensions will be treated as if they have been granted an Order in Council under section 4 (1) of the Marine Reserves Act. We are asking for the proposed Hākaimangõ-Matiatia (Northwest Waiheke) Marine Reserve to be added to Schedule 2 of the Bill and included in the Order in Council to be declared a marine reserve. We believe it would make administrative sense and would immeasurably strengthen the stated marine protection and restoration objectives of the Bill, while adding considerable public credibility to this legislation.

PLEASE raise your voice in support of effective marine protection for the Hauraki Gulf and Waiheke. Make a submission to the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill. Ask for the inclusion of the Hākaimangō-Matiatia (North West Waiheke) Marine Reserve.

The full submission of the Friends of the Hauraki Gulf is available on our website.

The graphic below is our proposed amendment to the Bill’s list of marine reserves listed in Schedule 2. Please feel free to cut and paste to your submission.

What you need to know

  • Submissions are publicly released and published to the Parliament website. Only your name or organisation’s name is required on a submission. Please keep your contact details separate, as if they are included on the submission they will become publicly available when the submission is released.
  • If you wish to include information of a private or personal nature in your submission, you should discuss this with the clerk of the committee before submitting.
  • If you wish to speak to your submission, please state this clearly.

Thank you for your support.