Once again we have a regional council looking to impose restrictions or closures in the marine space using the Resource Management Act (RMA), not the Fisheries Act. This is not acceptable.
The Waikato Regional Council (WRC) is seeking the public’s views on whether they need to restrict particular recreational or commercial activities in some coastal areas. The WRC will review public feedback and include any restrictions or area closures in the updated 10-year Coastal Plan. Submission deadline was Friday, 22 July, now Friday 29 July.
The WRC area covers the west coast from Franklin down to Mokau, and from the Firth of Thames down the Coromandel east coast to Homunga Bay, almost to Waihi.
We say fishing activities in the marine environment need to be managed using the Fisheries Act. That’s because only Fisheries Act tools are capable of restoring marine ecosystems by rebuilding fish abundance and diversity.
The Waikato Regional Council has already identified numerous areas as cultural and historic heritage sites and asked people to identify more sites. It is inevitable that people will choose sites familiar to them, including areas that are popular for fishing.
Our concern is the Resource Management Act (RMA) will be used to ban fishing from multiple areas along the coast. This means displacing fishing effort and putting the remaining open areas at risk. Effectively this means applying marine reserves by stealth, without widespread public input and understanding. Not acceptable.
We want more fish in the water. The RMA is not capable of rebuilding fish numbers.
What’s the solution?
Only Fisheries Act tools are capable of restoring marine ecosystems by rebuilding fish abundance and diversity.
Under section 11 of the Fisheries Act the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries has wide ranging powers to control fishing, ban harvest of species, limit methods and seasons.
And only the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries has the statutory duty to ensure sustainability and provide us a reasonable allowance, while sustaining fish populations for the benefit of future generations.
Why are our views so important?
The Waikato Regional Council Coastal Plan will be effective for 10 years so it’s very important we all make our views known ASAP.
Fishing contributes to the social, cultural and personal wellbeing of more than a million people who have access to the Waikato coastline, both east and west coasts.
What’s more, food is getting more expensive and even basic items are beyond the reach of many families. The retail price of seafood means it has become a luxury item that only some families can afford. There are many reasons why existing coastal access for fishing purposes must be maintained both for now and future generations.
We’ve put together a simple submission form so you can have a say. Deadline for feedback is Friday, 29 July.