The Green Party is calling on the Government to end bottom trawling, dredging, purse seining and other destructive fishing methods in Tikapa Moana/the Hauraki Gulf, which damage the ecosystem and put livelihoods at risk.
The comments come on the back of last night’s release of the Tai Timu Tai Pari/Sea Change report, a marine plan for the Hauraki Gulf produced by a collaborative co-governance group.
“Tikapa Moana/the Hauraki Gulf supports the livelihoods of more than 1.5 million people. It needs much better care if we are to restore its health and mauri so that fish, dolphins, sea birds and other marine life are abundant, the water is clean and people can better enjoy this much valued area,” said Green Party environment and fisheries spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“Bottom trawling involves dragging huge nets, with large metal plates and rubber wheels attached, over the seabed crushing nearly everything in their path.
“So many New Zealanders love and enjoy Tikapa Moana/the Hauraki Gulf and want to see it thrive. Bottom trawling and dredging are indiscriminate and destructive fishing methods that destroy and degrade the sea floor habitats of the Tikapa Moana/Hauraki Gulf, which needs a healthy seafloor to thrive.
“We need to restore valuable seafloor habitats such as horse mussel beds, scallop beds, kelp forests and sponge gardens. These provide a living habitat for other species and nurseries for juvenile fish. They support fisheries and help create a healthy gulf.
“Auckland’s increasing population, greater recreational use of the Tikapa Moana/the Hauraki Gulf and a better scientific understanding of how much the gulf’s health has declined, mean we need to step up protection. There has been a growing gap between what manawhenua want and the wider community hope and expect of Tikapa Moana/Hauraki Gulf and its actual state.
“As manawhenua well understand there’s a clear link between the health of Tikapa Moana/the Hauraki Gulf and the wellbeing of those whose use it and are connected to it, and we acknowledge manawhenua have had strong concerns about the issues affecting it.
“Extending the existing trawl-free zone in the inner gulf to make it free from trawling and dredging would protect the sea floor, help restore kai moana and be a first step in helping Tikapa Moana/the Hauraki Gulf to thrive,” said Ms Sage.