LegaSea Hawkes Bay

LegaSea Hawkes Bay is a volunteer group set up in 2015 following the demise of the Hawkes Bay Guardians.

When it comes to matters that affect recreational fishing interests and the marine environment, LegaSea Hawkes Bay has established itself as the local “Go To” organisation. They’ve been heavily involved with the 6 Wharf Project, and the creation of two new artificial reefs.

LegaSea Hawkes Bay enjoys the support of LegaSea (national) and the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council.

Establishing LegaSea Hawkes Bay was the catalyst to get mobilised and build links with other organisations and the public. It’s an evolving process and now LegaSea Hawkes Bay is working closely with the Hawkes Bay Regional Council, Pan Pac, Napier City Council, Hastings District Council, Napier Port, commercial fishers and Iwi. The team is also actively involved in several working parties: the Hawkes Bay Regional Council’s Coastal Review Committee, the Napier Port’s Fishing Liaison Group and Pan Pac’s stakeholders group.


LHB Committee

LegaSea Hawke’s Bay is made up of: John Stewart (Chairman), Wayne Bicknell, Jim Yeoman, Brian Firman, Alex Smith, David Bicknell, Dave Cheetham, David Scott, Carl Fairey.

LegaSea Hawkes Bay crew in action

6 Wharf Project

The Napier Port 6 Wharf Project involves building a new 350 metre container wharf. This requires dredging then disposing of 3.2 million cubic metres of material at an offshore dump site. There are three significant reef systems in close proximity to the site and this posed major environmental challenges.

In 2016 LegaSea Hawkes Bay (LHB) initiated discussions with Napier Port to ensure stringent conditions were applied, to preserve the integrity of the reef systems and limit any impacts on the fishery. Resource consent for the project was granted in December 2018 and further assurances were negotiated in a Heads of Agreement with the Port.

These related to water quality monitoring, LHB representation on the formation of the Fisheries Liaison Group, and the creation of an artificial reef using 20,000 cu/m of limestone rock from the existing revetment at the location of 6 Wharf that is unsuitable for reuse. Work on the project commenced in February 2020.


Artificial reefs

Two artificial reefs have been created as a direct result of the 6 Wharf project. The reefs are created from natural limestone boulders from the port’s old revetment wall, which was some of the material dismantled to create the new wharf.

The bulk of the available limestone rock for the reefs will be used to establish the first large reef off Pania, and the excess deposited at the second Gwen B reef site to enhance this area.

The first reef has been under construction since 2020, 1.4 kilometres north east of Pania Reef with 11 barge loads (8000 plus cubic metres). The second reef at the “Gwen B” shipwreck site was promptly constructed in a single day in January 2021, with 1 barge load (750 cubic metres).

There is a proposed third area at the 6 Wharf offshore dumping site where hard dredged material will be deposited in the northeast sector of the site to create a further reef type structure.

The artificial reef systems will provide habitats for a variety of marine life and will eventually enhance recreational fishing and diving opportunities around Napier.

This is a great example of what can be achieved by working collaboratively with others to successfully balance environmental, cultural, and economic needs.

Left to Right: John Stewart, Napier Port CEO Todd Dawson, Brian Firman. Image: Napier Port

Fisheries Liaison Group

The Fisheries Liaison Group (FLG) was established in February 2019 as a condition of the 6 Wharf resource consent. The Group comprises three representatives from each sector, commercial fishing, LegaSea Hawkes Bay and Napier Port, with an independent Chair. Commercial fisherman Karl Warr and a Hawkes Bay Regional Council representative have been co-opted onto the Group.  

The FLG has an aspirational goal – to be a “ world leader” in collaboration, participation and sharing of information associated with effects on fisheries during the development of 6 Wharf and throughout associated dredging and disposal activities.

To date the principal focus has been the development of detailed separate Management Plans for Dredging and Disposal, Water Quality, Fisheries Habitat, Avian, Marine Wildlife and Biosecurity. These Plans are in place and form part of the contractual documentation for the 6 Wharf project. This group has been an outstanding success.


Springs Box

Five years ago agreement was reached with the Napier Commercial Fisherman’s Association and endorsed by Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, to voluntarily exclude bottom trawling from 237 square kilometres at the “Springs” area of Hawke Bay, from 1 December to 29 February every year.

The Springs is a very popular area for recreational fishing over summer. The agreement is testament to the ongoing collaboration between the two sectors and has the common goal of improving local fish stocks. Efforts to improve data capture and monitoring of fish caught within the zone are ongoing. The results will be used to evaluate fish numbers and the effectiveness of the exclusion zone in creating an improved recreational experience.


Colin Murray ramp survey

In 2004 the public and members of the Hawkes Bay Sports Fishing Club started noticing a steady decline in the state of the Hawke Bay fishery. Even the most experienced anglers were struggling to get a reasonable catch. After much deliberation it was agreed that the Club would start recording what members were catching during their scheduled club competitions. Following peer review by marine scientist John Holdsworth, the catch survey began in 2006. It was aptly named after Club stalwart “Colin Murray” .

The ramp survey data and graphs have proven to be a powerful tool to support the assertions that the Hawke Bay fisheries were in trouble. MPI agreed to have two of their scientists look at the ramp survey data and meta-data to see if any of the collection and assessment methods needed to be changed. Their conclusion was to change nothing as the data had been collected with consistent methodology over a long period, and provided meaningful results.

The study has now been extended to monitor catch rates from the Springs Box area.

In the 14th season of the Colin Murray ramp survey, data show that catch rates are slowly improving for some species. There have been many positive outcomes associated with the survey so far.

There will be many factors contributing to the improvement so it’s important the team continues to monitor catch levels with the Colin Murray Ramp Survey method.

LegaSea Hawkes Bay Facebook



Strong reef protection a united front

May 22, 2023 A new artificial reef off Napier Port is set to become a flourishing environment thanks to the collaboration between mana whenua, LegaSea Hawkes Bay, Port of Napier, and the community. This collaboration has already produced two other artificial reefs in Hawke’s Bay, one north of Pania Reef and another at a shipwreck site. After only […]

No more dumping in Hawke’s Bay

January 25, 2022 LegaSea Hawke’s Bay has said an outright no to the proposal by their Regional Council to dump more than 50,000 cubic metres of dredge material onto the foreshore south of Napier. Instead, LegaSea Hawke’s Bay is urging the Council to dispose of the Clive River dredgings on land. And they are not alone in advocating […]

Hawke’s Bay cannot be ignored

July 28, 2016 If ever there was a need to ban inshore trawling to better allow for recreational fishing, then Hawke’s Bay is a prime example. A 10-year boat ramp survey shows dramatic declines in landings. There is unconstrained trawling inshore. All parties agree recreational fishing in the Bay needs to improve. Yet after almost two years of […]

LegaSea Hawkes Bay – a positive move

July 26, 2016 In 2014 the people of Hawkes Bay said “enough”, then they took the bold step of committing their time, energy and resources to rebuilding the depleted Bay’s fish stocks. To achieve that outcome they formed LegaSea Hawkes Bay to raise funds, political and public awareness. Two years on they are focused on engaging with their […]