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Strategy will guide Tauranga harbour’s future

MEDIA RELEASE


Strategy will guide Tauranga harbour’s future

RECREATIONAL USE IN THE LIMELIGHT

For immediate release: Tuesday 26 September 2006

A strategy for looking after Tauranga harbour will provide a stronger foundation for its future, according to Environment Bay of Plenty.

The regional council adopted the first Tauranga Harbour Integrated Management Strategy at a strategic policy meeting today (Tuesday 26 September).

“Tauranga harbour is very precious and we must make sure we continue to look after it well,” says Environment Bay of Plenty deputy chairman Bryan Riesterer. “The harbour environment is coming under more and more pressure as the population grows around it, so the challenges are increasing. We want to get in now and do everything we can to make sure the harbour does not deteriorate. We don’t want it to become a major environmental problem like the Rotorua lakes.”

Mr Riesterer says the strategy identifies the harbour’s issues, evaluates them and lists actions to address them. “It’s about actions not words, so this is an extremely valuable milestone for the harbour. It is an over-arching document that people have asked for, and we can now give it to them.”

One of the steps is to clarify future recreational use of the harbour. More people are using the harbour for very different purposes, from swimming to boating to collecting seafood. A recreation strategy is being put together to help address the issues around this, Mr Riesterer says.

Another top priority will be to investigate the reasons for sediment build up in the harbour. That investigation is already being scoped, and will be underway early next year. “Sedimentation has affected every facet of life in the harbour.” It has encouraged mangrove spread, silted up navigation channels, and affected the harbour ecology. “It’s clearly the most important issue in people’s minds, which make it our most important issue too.”

Others concerns included mangroves, marine biosecurity, and sea lettuce. Many of these are already being addressed, as is outlined in the strategy.

A review of Tauranga Harbour’s management was carried out last year by Environment Bay of Plenty with support from Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council. It involved input from experts such as environmental scientists and consultation with key community members.

The review evaluated the issues, gaps and overlaps in the management of Tauranga harbour and suggested actions to address them. It was publicly notified for submissions, with hearings held earlier this year. Mr Riesterer chaired the hearings committee. The results are now integrated into the strategy.

Check Environment Bay of Plenty’s website, www.envbop.govt.nz or call 0800 ENV BOP (368 267) for a copy of the strategy.

ENDS

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