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New plan outlines path forward for Hauraki Gulf

STRICTLY EMBARGOED till 6pm Tuesday 6 December 2016

New plan outlines path forward for Hauraki Gulf

An innovative new marine spatial plan for the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana, outlining a comprehensive range of suggested measures to boost its health, has been unveiled today.

The country’s first marine spatial plan, Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari, has been four years in the making.

The Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana non-statutory plan was the outcome of a huge collaborative project overseen by a partnership between mana whenua, and local and central government.

The Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana, also known as Te Moananui ā Toi, is a national taonga. The focus of the marine spatial plan is to safeguard this treasure for all.

The drafting of the plan was undertaken by a multi-sector Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) after community engagement, and was approved by the mana whenua-agency governance group last month.

The gulf has come under increasing pressures, which are expected to intensify.

The Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari marine spatial plan is designed to improve the mauri (life force and vitality) of the gulf and better protect it for current and future generations.

“The Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana is a taonga for all the communities of this special area. It is significant for its cultural, environmental, economic and social values,” said Paul Majurey, co-chair of the governance group which oversaw the preparation of the plan.

“We all need to work together if the gulf and its resources are to be better protected. This plan provides us with a blueprint for action to make the gulf increasingly productive, and to support healthy and prosperous communities within its boundaries.”

Agencies involved in the non-statutory plan have included Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, local councils, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries. The SWG’s deliberations were informed by extensive scientific advice.

The background to the plan’s development is that the health of the Hauraki Gulf has been damaged and/or threatened for many years, with a range of problems identified. Examples of pressures include: depleted fish and kaimoana stocks, smothering of marine life by fine sediments washed off the land, increased pressures from population growth and development, and declining biodiversity.

Those pressures on the gulf are continuing to grow. Population growth in the Auckland region alone is estimated to increase from 1.6 million people today to 2.5 million people by 2041. By 2030 more than 2.8 million people in Auckland and Waikato are expected to be living within 80 kilometres of the marine park. An increased population means a potential increase to the risk of the health and wellbeing of the gulf.

The Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari marine spatial plan suggests tackling the gulf’s issues head on by:

• eventually banning certain commercial fishing methods and reviewing the way fish stocks are managed

• creating 13 new marine protected areas and extending two existing ones to better protect the marine environment and support fish and kaimoana stocks

• creating new local “Ahu Moana” marine areas, to provide for joint mana whenua and community management of local marine areas to support sustainable use of the gulf

• setting limits for sediment and nutrients getting into the marine environment from land-based activities

• suggesting areas for an expansion of environmentally sustainable marine farming.

The plan was symbolically handed over to central and local government agencies at a ceremony in Auckland tonight by Mr Majurey on behalf of the project. Those agencies will now consider how they will implement its suggestions.

“The plan’s development has been a major piece of work and I would like to thank SWG members who have worked tirelessly on this project, along with the various agencies, advisors and community members who have had input into the plan,” said Mr Majurey.

“The challenge now is for agencies to pick up the recommendations suggested and to optimise the tools they have at their disposal to chart a new way forward for the health of the gulf.”

The full text of the marine spatial plan will be made available from 6pm tonight at www.seachange.org.nz

The Auckland event will start at 6pm at the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre Rakino room, 161 Halsey Street, Auckland. A Thames event will be at the same time on 7 December at the Thames Racecourse, 511 Parawai Road, Thames, Coromandel.

© Scoop Media

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