Government deaf to community concerns

July 15, 2021
Local Hauraki Gulf communities are left feeling unheard after the Government has decided to take a cherry-picking approach in protecting and enhancing the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
Rāhui community meeting, Opito Bay, December 2020.
We are disappointed by the recent changes proposed in the Government (Revitalising the Gulf) response to the Sea Change plan which includes decisions which will only protect pockets of biodiversity while leaving the remainder open to destructive industrial fishing practices. In our enlightened age we must be careful to not simply shift industrial fishing effort elsewhere. Any marine protection measures must be accompanied by meaningful reductions in fishing effort because commercial fishing is like a balloon – if you squeeze it in one place, the pressure pops out in another place. It is not okay for the Government to be proposing measures that shift bulk commercial fishing effort to Northland and the Bay of Plenty in an attempt to protect the Hauraki Gulf. Within the Gulf trawling will still be permitted in unspecified “corridors”, and commercial scallop dredging can continue in areas currently fished. Another example of cherry-picking is the decision to ban recreational scallop dredging from the Gulf yet still allow commercial scallop dredging to continue. This is treating recreational fishers as the soft touch while permitting this highly destructive method to continue. Freezing the dredging footprint and introducing bottom-trawl corridors will not address the systemic problems of overharvesting and the use of indiscriminate fishing techniques. If anything, it will mean more loss of biodiversity and long-term irreversible damage to the seafloor. LegaSea is advocating for a ban on all mobile bottom-contact fishing methods, such as trawling and dredging, in the Gulf and nationwide 12 nautical miles out to sea. Our coastal habitats and nurseries are well worth protecting so fish populations can become abundant in the future. The Revitalising the Gulf action plan fails to deliver any more than vague promises and more restraints on people seeking to provide for their family’s wellbeing from fishing. Meanwhile if you support a ban on trawling and dredging in inshore waters, sign our Rescue Fish petition today at rescuefish.co.nz/petition