Forest & Bird is calling on all political parties to back legislation to increase protection in the Hauraki Gulf Tīkapa Moana, saying the 19 new protected areas are a big step towards a target of protecting 30% of New Zealand’s only marine park.
The Hauraki Gulf – Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill, announced today by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, includes 19 new protection areas that will nearly triple the total area under protection in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park from just over 6 per cent to about 18 per cent.
The Government plans to introduce the bill into Parliament before the House rises.
Alongside the bill, the Prime Minister also announced a new Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan aimed at reducing the impact of fishing on the Gulf and moving to a fisheries management approach that better considers whole ecosystem impacts.
However, Forest & Bird is deeply concerned that Danish seining and bottom trawling – destructive fishing methods that harm the seafloor – will still be allowed in large parts of the Hauraki Gulf under the new plan.
“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,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive, Nicoka Toki. “When the government consults on the proposed Hauraki Gulf bottom trawl areas, it’s vital that the New Zealand public send a clear message that it needs to end.”
Forest & Bird has spent more than a decade campaigning for the Gulf to be protected, alongside other concerned organisations.
“The immense pressure of fishing and pollution on this unique and treasured part of the moana were unsustainable,” Ms Toki says. “We have witnessed a decline in both marine life and seabird populations.
“But these new protection areas offer a brilliant first step towards reversing that decline. This is a genuinely historic moment.
“This is the first fisheries plan that takes an ecosystems-based approach and also that is tailored for a specific area,” Ms Toki says. “It must not be the last.
“We thank all the hundreds of Forest & Bird supporters who have supported our Arohatia Tīkapa Moana | Love the Gulf campaign. They should be proud of what they have helped to achieve."
Bianca Ranson, Forest & Bird’s Hauraki Gulf Coordinator, has led the campaign. As a Waiheke Island resident, Ranson has witnessed the Gulf’s ecological decline firsthand. She was determined to help preserve it for generations to come.
Ranson presented a 36,589-signature petition to end bottom trawling to Parliament in June, alongside organisations under the Hauraki Gulf Alliance umbrella including Greenpeace, Legasea and WWF-New Zealand.
“Forest & Bird thanks everyone who protested, made submissions, wrote letters, or sat on committees for more than a decade to get this far. The work isn’t done but it’s a big step forward,” says Ms Ranson.