The Government’s plans to ban bottom trawling in a large area of the Hauraki Gulf to better protect the 1.2 million-hectare marine park are now open for public input.
Minister of Conservation Willow-Jean Prime and Minister for Oceans and Fisheries Rachel Brooking called a media conference on Tuesday morning at Hamer Street, Auckland, to announce that public consultation on four options for the bottom trawling rules will start this week.
“Aucklanders and others have called for greater protection for their beloved big blue backyard, the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana. We have listened, and we have acted,” Brooking said.
“The Gulf is a taonga with deep-rooted historical importance for tangata whenua, a vital part of our society and of our tourism, transport and seafood sectors, with an economic value of $100 billion.”
Brooking said that bottom-trawling and Danish seining are currently banned in just over a quarter of the Gulf’s waters.
The options open for consultation could lead to Danish seining being banned from up to 89 percent of the marine park. Currently, only 27 percent of the Gulf is closed to bottom trawling and Danish seining fishing methods.
There are four options on the table for consideration.
The first option would ban Danish seine fishing from 74.1 percent of the Gulf and trawl fishing from 77.1 percent of the Gulf shallower than 200m, restricted to six defined zones.
Under the second proposed option, trawl and Danish seine fishing would be banned from 79.4 percent and trawl fishing from 82.4 percent of the Gulf shallower than 200m, in five defined zones.
The third option would see trawl and Danish seine fishing banned from 86.6 per cent and trawl fishing from 88.5 per cent of the Gulf shallower than 200m, in four defined zones.
Lastly, option four would ban Danish seine fishing from 87.3 per cent, and trawl fishing from 89 per cent of the Gulf shallower than 200m, in four defined zones.
Concerns of a serious fish-hook in each of the options were raised, after some initial confusion over the maps detailing what areas were covered in each option. Waiheke Local Board chair Cath Handley contacted Gulf News on Tuesday to raise the alarm that an area north of Waiheke would be opened up to bottom trawling for the first time in 20 years.
She supplied Gulf News with maps for each option from consultation documents sent to the local board, which were later confirmed as correct by Minister Brooking’s office.
• Silvia Massa, additional reporting by Paul Mitchell
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