Efforts to halt the long decline of the Hauraki Gulf ecosystem appear to be paying off. The Hauraki Gulf Forum’s three-yearly 2023 State of Our Gulf report this week has documented changes in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park – which spans roughly 14,000 square kilometres from Te Arai to Waihi – over the past 20 years. And some of those changes are positive. 

In the report’s introduction, forum co-chairs Nicola MacDonald and Toby Adams say the park is the seabird capital of the world, home to tohorā (right whales), with two million people living on its shores. 

“The State of Our Gulf is, ultimately, a story about us. About our impact on the Gulf. About our slow but steady destruction of one of the great ecosystems on earth.”

However, they say it’s also the story of how mana whenua and local communities have rallied to protect and restore the marine environment. “Thanks to [them] the Gulf is, for the first time in over 100 years, scallop-dredge free. Other forms of seafloor-impact fishing are reducing.
Riparian planting of waterways leading into the Gulf is proceeding at pace. Billions are being invested in stopping sewage and stormwater overflows and we are on the cusp of seeing long-overdue new marine and seafloor protection areas.”

These combined community efforts are more important than ever, with the effects of climate change already being felt in the Gulf. “Marine heat waves, invasive seaweeds, more frequent storms and acidifying waters all pose serious new threats to the health of the Gulf. This underscores the vital importance of rebuilding a resilient, biodiverse and abundant Gulf.” • Paul Mitchell

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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