Alliance slams decision to continue trawling Hauraki Gulf

August 9, 2023

News today that the government will allow bottom trawling to continue in large areas of the Hauraki Gulf is being met by strong opposition from an alliance of groups campaigning to get the destructive fishing method out of the marine park.

Released today, the decision is part of the Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan, and while offering some protection it still allows bottom trawling  to continue in large areas of the marine park euphemistically dubbed “trawl corridors”.

Members of the Hauraki Gulf Alliance, a diverse group of organisations, including LegaSea, Forest & Bird, WWF-New Zealand and Greenpeace are frustrated by the decision, saying it goes against public opinion and the scientific evidence that shows bottom trawl methods destroy marine ecosystems and contribute to the decline of the Hauraki Gulf.

“This decision is extremely disappointing and a massive missed opportunity to protect the Hauraki Gulf in its entirety”, says Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper.

“Bottom trawling is the most destructive fishing method there is, bulldozing the seafloor and indiscriminately destroying marine ecosystems. To give the Hauraki Gulf – Tīkapa Moana a chance to recover and thrive, bottom trawling has got to stop completely in all areas of the Gulf, and to do that we need bold action from the government, not more concessions to the fishing industry.”

“The Minister’s decision allowing bottom trawling to continue in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is counter-productive to restoring the seabed and ocean life. The collapse and recent closure of the entire east coast scallop fishery ought to have been a signal that the marine environment is struggling. Over 36,000 people have clearly said they want bottom trawling and dredging gone from the Gulf. We can and must do better to enhance the Gulf, for our kids and future generations”,  says LegaSea’s spokesperson Benn Winlove.

“The government has missed an important opportunity to end bottom trawling in the Hauraki Gulf. This hampers the much-needed efforts to urgently restore the mauri of Tīkapa Moana. Our campaign to end this completely inappropriate and destructive fishing method continues. We will not stop here. There is no place for bottom trawling in a decimated ocean environment that needs our help more than ever.  When the government consults on the Hauraki Gulf bottom trawl areas, it’s vital that the New Zealand public send a clear message that it needs to end”, says Forest & Bird Hauraki Gulf coordinator Bianca Ranson.

“We acknowledge there are positive steps being taken towards marine protection in the Hauraki Gulf; however, we remain disappointed with the decision to continue bottom trawling in some corridors. The marine ecosystems in the Gulf have been suffering for a long time and need urgent action. Thousands of New Zealanders, who signed our petition to put an end to these destructive fishing methods, have been ignored. Banning damaging bottom-contact fishing methods is a critical step in the journey to a healthy Tīkapa Moana,” says WWF-New Zealand Advisor, Conservation Impact, Carolyn Aguilar.

In June, members of the Hauraki Gulf Alliance, a diverse range of recreational fishing, environmental, law, corporate and business organisations, delivered a petition signed by over 36,000 people to parliament calling for a ban on trawl methods in the Gulf. A horizon poll also showed strong public support for a ban with 84% of people living around the Gulf wanting bottom trawling gone.

Earlier in the year, hundreds turned out for a flotilla at Mission Bay to oppose the continued trawling of the Marine Park, deploying banners from boats, kayaks and on the beach.