Guest Editorial: Former Auckland Regional Council chairman and Auckland Councillor Mike Lee is spokesman for the Waiheke group Friends of the Hauraki Gulf which is seeking to establish one last no-take marine reserve in the waters off the north-western coast of Waiheke.
This coming Sunday 20 March submissions will close on the application for the proposed Hākaimangō-Matiatia (NW Waiheke) Marine Reserve.
This application by the Friends of the Hauraki Gulf is the first new proposal for a marine reserve in the Hauraki Gulf this century. Thus, it is the first opportunity in a generation for Waiheke Islanders and those who love the Gulf to exercise a statutory right under the Marine Reserves Act to have their voices heard by the government in support of such a measure.
Experts have been warning us for years that the Hauraki Gulf is in crisis, its marine ecosystems, its marine life under intense pressure from human impacts. At the same time less than half of one percent of the Gulf is currently protected in marine reserves.
Further sanctuaries that guarantee that the fish and other marine creatures that live therein are able to spawn, to reproduce themselves, to live out their natural life span free from human exploitation and destruction, are desperately needed.
This marine reserve proposal is built on the solid foundation of years of scientific research and professional public opinion polling, much of it initiated by the Waiheke Local Board.
We on Waiheke are at least trying, as we have often done in the past, to do our bit and in doing this, hold up high a standard, an exemplar for the rest of the region and for the rest of the country.
The proposed Hākaimangō-Matiatia Marine Reserve has drawn heartening public support and has the mana of the Ngāti Pāoa Trust Board four-square behind it.
This is a last plea to fellow islanders to make a submission in support. Go to: https://www.doc.govt.nz/waiheke
proposal or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Your submission need only be brief but in terms of the Marine Reserves Act, it should emphasise the benefits of such a reserve for the: 1) scientific study of our marine life; and 2) the good that such a reserve will do for marine life and, in turn, the spiritual, mental, aesthetic and economic benefits this will bring for people.
Over time the Hākaimangō-Matiatia Marine Reserve will become a biological treasure house, a “jewel in the crown” of the Hauraki Gulf, enhancing the life-supporting capacity of hundreds of marine species protected therein and a source of pride which, by its very existence, will enrich the lives and wellbeing of the people of Waiheke, the islands of the Gulf, the Auckland region and beyond; a legacy for future generations.
Finally it will create, we will create, something meaningful to protect the Hauraki Gulf and its precious threatened wildlife in perpetuity – instead of just endlessly talking about it. Please help. • Mike Lee