ayor Phil Goff, Waiheke Local Board Chairperson Cath Handley and Waitematā and Gulf Ward Councillor Pippa Coom following the Governing Body meeting last week. Photo Councillor Cathy Casey

Auckland Council’s Governing Body unanimously agreed to support Ngāti Pāoa’s rāhui at its meeting last week. Local board chairperson Cath Handley says the move carries significant weight.

The rāhui was imposed by Ngāti Pāoa on Sunday 31 January and instated for an initial two-year period covering one nautical mile from the coastline, with a no-take order for four shellfish species.

At its meeting last week, the Governing Body also unanimously agreed to submit in support of the Fisheries Act Section 186a Waiheke closure applying to those four species, currently being consulted on by the Ministry of Primary Industries. Mayor Phil Goff and Waitematā and Gulf Ward Councillor Pippa Coom are currently finalising the submission.

At the meeting, Ms Coom said achieving unanimous support from Auckland Council would send a clear message to the government that further marine protection is needed.

“Central government is primarily responsible for putting in place increased marine protection. The Minister for Oceans and Fisheries has the power to alter fisheries policy to protect the Gulf, and the Minister of Conservation has responsibility for the creation of new marine reserves,” she said.  

“We have been waiting for too long on government’s response to Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari (the proposed marine spatial plan designed to safeguard the Gulf).

“If government had its policy settings right, mana whenua would not be having to lay down rāhui to protect what little kaimoana we have left. I commend Ngāti Paoa for taking decisive action and turning around the rāhui incredibly quickly. I’ve also been impressed to see how broad the support is for the rāhui from a wide range of stakeholders and from the local community.”

A spokesperson for Mayor Phil Goff told Gulf News following the meeting that while halting the take of four shellfish species is an effective way to help achieve replenishment, it is only a stop-gap measure.

“The species referred to in the rāhui and the submission have reached the point of collapse in the local area and need to replenish if they are to be a sustainable source of food in the longer term.

“We need more marine protected areas around the Hauraki Gulf to ensure the recovery of fish and shellfish that are hugely depleted.”

Local Board chairperson Cath Handley says she was elated to see such strong support for the rāhui and its enforcement.

“Pippa Coom, as a member of the governing body and co-chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, urged councillors to vote unanimously to send a strong message to the government that protective legislation concerning the Hauraki Gulf is long overdue. It was great to see support across the political spectrum of the Governing Body.” •Sophie Boladeras

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

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