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Effort needed to ensure wellbeing of Hauraki Gulf

Greater efforts needed to ensure wellbeing of Hauraki Gulf

June 3

Current regulatory approaches and management arrangements may be inadequate to deal with the pressures facing the Hauraki Gulf according to a Hauraki Gulf State of the Environment Report released today.

The report, collated by the Hauraki Gulf Forum, documents accumulating heavy metals in Auckland's upper harbours, large amounts of nitrogen entering the Firth of Thames from dairy sources, and the build up of contaminants such as heavy metals and sediments from past and present land development, especially from the Auckland urban area which is compromising water quality and marine biodiversity in the Waitemata Harbour, Tamaki and Whitford estuaries.

Another indicator of high sediment loading is increasing mangrove cover which is threatening seabird shellbank nesting sites, particularly around the internationally recognised migratory bird habitat at Miranda.

It also suggests there are gaps and inconsistencies in the way environmental information is collected around the Gulf, uncertainty over which indicators to report on, and incompatibility in the scales of management applied to fisheries and resource management.

Chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum John Tregidga said the report showed that careful and integrated management was needed to ensure the health of the Hauraki Gulf.

"Its message is that we have much to be encouraged by and much to be concerned about," said Mr Tregidga

The 100 page report, the second compiled by the Hauraki Gulf Forum, shows the catchment around the Hauraki Gulf is now home to over one million people, with growing consumption and intensifying farming practices, adding pressures to the environment.

United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner, a special guest at the launch as part of a visit to New Zealand to celebrate World Environment Day, said state of the environment reporting was an important tool to focus management agencies on achieving the environmental outcomes sought by the community.

"Internationally we have found that integrating management across the whole catchment, from mountains to the sea, is essential for the protection of marine areas."

"The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is an important model of how nature conservation, public enjoyment, economic wellbeing and cultural rights and interests can be aligned," said Mr Steiner.

Hauraki Gulf Forum deputy chair Mike Lee, who presented the main findings of the report to guests at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, said that the protection and enhancement intended by the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act has yet to be realised. The Act, introduced in 2000, recognised the national significance of the Hauraki Gulf and established objectives to guide and integrate its management.

"The report shows the significant expenditure being made in storm and wastewater infrastructure, planning, regulatory controls and community engagement, but greater urgency and coordination is needed," Mr Lee said.

"There is no cause for complacency - the battle to protect the Hauraki Gulf is yet to be won"

The report documents the significant ecological recovery occurring on many of the islands of the Gulf, through predator control and volunteer restoration groups.

John Tredidga said the Forum's work plan - on the agenda for its June 19 meeting - aimed to provide greater guidance on the use of environmental indicators and monitoring, the development of policies and plans required under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act, and recognition of iwi interests around the Gulf.

END


Background:

The Hauraki Gulf Forum is a statutory body responsible for the integrated management of the Hauraki Gulf. The Forum has representation on behalf of the Ministers of Conservation, Fisheries and Maori Affairs, Auckland Regional Council and Environment Waikato, ten local authorities (Rodney, Franklin, Waikato, Hauraki, Thames Coromandel and Matamata Piako District Councils, North Shore, Waitakere, Auckland and Manukau City Councils), plus six representatives of the tangata whenua of the Hauraki Gulf and its islands.

More information at www.haurakigulfforum.org.nz

ENDS

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