In March over 7000 New Zealanders united to submit against the ongoing use of bottom trawling and scallop dredging in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. These submitters were responding to Fisheries New Zealand’s draft Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan, issued in January. Public consultation on the plan is now closed.
The draft action plan is supposed to deliver a healthier marine environment.
Instead, the plan contains few meaningful or time-bound actions to achieve any restoration or increase in biodiversity. FNZ’s proposals will allow bottom trawling, scallop dredging, and Danish seining to continue in the Park.
It is not progressive to have a plan advocating for a healthier marine environment while allowing ongoing damage to benthic habitats and communities. Most of the submitters using the LegaSea online tool objected to these aspects of the proposed plan.
We must not lose the opportunity to remove environmentally damaging fishing techniques from coastal waters.
The good news is over 30,000 people have already signed the Hauraki Gulf Alliance petition calling for a ban on destructive fishing methods. This is positive support for organisations already supporting the Alliance.
There is increasing pressure on the Government to get trawling and dredging out of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Now it’s up to the Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rachel Brooking to decide on the fate of the draft plan.
Will she do the right thing and ban destructive fishing methods from the Gulf?
We know the public wants to see a thriving marine environment. We just need to show the government a growing public appetite for banning bottom trawling and scallop dredging from Gulf waters.