Failure to take Action on Environmental Health of the Gulf
New Report Demonstrates Failure to take Action on Environmental Health of the Gulf
Press Release: Councillor Christine Fletcher
The triennial State of the Environment report 2014 was tabled on Monday 22 September at the quarterly meeting of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, the body charged under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act with promoting integrated management and protection of the Hauraki Gulf. Following on from the previous report of 2011, the report identifies continuing environmental degradation as a result of human activities both in the surrounding catchment area and within the Gulf.
“This report is a damning account of our collective failure to take action. The last report in 2011 should have sent warning bells and bold new measures to curb further deterioration. Sadly, this 2014 report details fresh evidence of the continuing decline and loss of our Gulf’s natural assets,” Councillor Christine Fletcher, member of the Hauraki Gulf Forum said.
The current state of the Hauraki Gulf, according to the report, is on a downward trend, with snapper stocks marginally improved; yet well below targets for sustainable management. Water quality is being severely impacted by nitrogen leaching, caused from intensive dairy farming on the Hauraki Plains as well as increased contamination through sedimentation. Toxic chemicals, invasive marine species, wastewater overflows and aging infrastructure and poor coastal development were all highlighted as contributing to the downward decline.
“Whether you come at this from an ecological, recreational or economic perspective we need to take action now and not just wait for more planning. Now is the time to determine priorities for action to reduce the impacts and pressures on our marine environment,” said Councillor Fletcher.
Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari is the non-statutory spatial plan for the Hauraki Gulf, which has been in the planning process since August 2013 and is due to be delivered September 2015.
“Proposed environmental cuts in Auckland’s Long Term Plan couldn’t come at a worse time for the Hauraki Gulf. Continual monitoring of the Gulf is more important than ever given the pressure on our national treasure. Ongoing monitoring as well as gaps in the data need to be addressed to ensure we can make the evidence based decisions that need to be made. “
“With the Government’s recent announcement that it plans to move forward with reforms to the Resource Management Act and National Policy Statement on Freshwater, there exists an opportunity to implement robust environmental standards for intensive land use, strong regulation of water quality as well to empower Auckland Council to take action on managing fish stocks, all critical elements in restoring the health of our Gulf.”
“Now more than ever is needed an integrated approach to management with all agencies, including Government, Council, Community and Tangata Whenua, pulling together to turn the state of the environment around, with particular recognition of the vision and aspirations of kaitiaki in the region,” said Cr Fletcher.”
“Auckanders love our Gulf, it is central to the wellbeing of our people and communities; host to our island communities, recreational fishing and boating, a food basket for New Zealand and of special spiritual and cultural significance to Tangata Whenua, we want to see it protected and maintained in a sustainable way.”