2018 may

Reserve is giant snapper nursery

A genetic study comparing snapper inside and out of Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island) has found that the reserve contributes 10 times more juveniles snapper than if it was not a reserve.

Offspring of spawning adults from the reserve were found up to 40km away.

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Budget Boost

The coalition government’s 2018 budget includes a $181.6m increase in funding for the Department of Conservation over four years, a 16 per cent increase on the current departmental allocation. It includes $81.6m for landscape-scale predator control. The budget has also allocated funding to support an independent review into the fisheries management system as well as to upgrade fisheries monitoring and compliance efforts.

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John Meeuwsen

New Chair for Forum

Waiheke Local Board member John Meeuwsen has been elected the new Chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum. He becomes the fourth chair in the Forum’s 18-year history, replacing Mayor John Tregidga after a term of 11 years.

John Meeuwsen spoke to Our Auckland about his background, interests and aspirations for the Forum.

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Island tour bid

Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Tribal Trust will get their day in court as they seek the sole rights to run tours on Rangitoto and Motutapu islands.

Currently Fullers Group Ltd have rights to transport and run tours, the Motutapu Island Restoration Trust to run tours with permission from the Conservation Department, with Ngāi Tai also running small tours. The Trusts appeal had been declined by the Appeals Court but can now go ahead after this Supreme Court ruling.

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SafeSwim lifesaving woes

It’s not been plain sailing over summer with water quality causing headaches for surf lifesavers across the city. Auckland Council’s new SafeSwim monitoring network, is much more accurate than the old monitoring system. With some beaches unsafe for swimming for days on end, this saw many surf lifesaving events cancelled.

Surf lifesavers monitor the events, but were refusing to oversee any at beaches deemed unsafe for swimming. Organisers are now concerned these types of events will no longer be viable and put ocean swimming off the cards for many.

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Students star against plastic

Snells Beach school children were stars of a new short film by Young Ocean Explorers Steve Hathaway and daughter Riley as part of the 1+ A Day anti-plastic campaign. With funding from the Hauraki Gulf environmental Innovation Fund (GIFT) run by Foundation North, the marine adventurers hope to inspire youngsters to pickup plastic on the streets and in parks, before it gets into the sea.

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Love is blue

They were saved from starvation and fell in love while they recovered in captivity on Waiheke Island. But there was an emotional dilemma for the little blue penguins at the heart of this love story when one was ready to be released but the other wasn’t.

Find out what happened …

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Kiwi comes calling

A Whangarei couple got the surprise of their lives when a kiwi popped in for a visit. The young bird, raised on Motuora Is and recently released in the area, wandered into their Maunu home and decided to have a look around. With the Pukenui Forest 500 metres away the little wanderer had to cross a busy road to reach its preferred digs.

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Gulf water temperatures stable

There is little good news with climate change, but altered currents off Australia’s coast will surprisingly see Hauraki Gulf water temperatures stay much as they are for some time. The downside is our southern coastline waters are warming up. Normally, the warm East Australian current ambles across the Tasman Sea bringing warmer water to the east coast of the North Island. This accounts for much of the teeming diversity of sea life found around the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve.

The warmer water extends south through the Hauraki Gulf. But the East Australian current is getting pulled further south under climate change, diminishing the flow across the Tasman Sea…

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Islands get Google treatment

Armchair explorers internationally will now able to sample the visual delights of Rangitoto Island and Tiritiri Matangi Island. Google sent a hiker with a packpack loaded up with 15 lenses to the two islands recently, with the resulting 360-degree panaroamic images now loaded onto its Street View site.

The volcanic landscape of Rangitoto and the wildlife sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi are already favourites for overseas visitors to the Gulf, with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) getting onboard with Google for this venture.

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Fishing panel debate

Fisheries and critics fronted to a panel discussion last week on whether a government inquiry was needed to overhaul of the 30-year-old quota management system.

Organised by the Environmental Defence Society, the event also saw the author of recently released book Voices from the Sea, Raewyn Peart explain the findings of her study, which had led to the publication calling for change.

While most panel participants, including Sanford Fisheries head Volker Kuntzsch, agreed work was needed on the inshore fishery, not everyone thought an enquiry was needed to achieve change.

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Starry night conservation

When Aotea Great Barrier Island was awarded International Dark Sky Sanctuary status last year, it caused quite a stir. It is just one of three places globally to gain the designation and the first island. With off grid power, no street lighting, large areas of conservation land, and being 90 kilometres form central Auckland, it proved to be a winner. Folk on the Barrier have taken to their new status with pride, including seeing it as a piece of the island’s tourism pie.

Nalayini Davies, the scientist who set the island on the road to its new found status, sees access to clear night skies as conservation on a cosmic scale.
She sees dark sky possibilities for Rodney in north Auckland and other areas around the Gulf, but says action needs to be taken before increased development gets underway – so conserving dark night skies is taken into account with council planning.

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DNA house a winner

Stamping your personality on to a new home took on a whole new meaning for one family on the Coromandel.The award winning wilderness bach at Otama Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula has the family’s DNA patterns included in one of the house’s design features. Designed by Architect Ken Crosson The DNA House has been likened to a spaceship and recently won a Housing Award in the 2018 NZIA Waikato/Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards.

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Kiwi for Coro

Young kiwi have been returned to the wild on the Thames coast at Te Mata. The 19 youngsters were taken from the area, while still in their eggs, to be hatched in the safety of Auckland Zoo. They grew up on Rotoroa Is until heavy enough to fend off predators before being returned to their original wilderness home.

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Commercial crayfish cuts

While they agree with a reduction to the crayfish catch is needed in the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty, commercial fishers are concerned at the size of the cuts.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash has cut the allowable catch from 200 tonnes to 80 tonnes. This will see earnings drop by about 60 percent and see commercial vessels forced off the water, Rock Lobster Industry Council CEO Mark Edwards says.

This follows a grim assessment of the state of the CRA 2 fishery.

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Cockle concerns continue

A study on the cause of death of hundreds of thousands of cockles in the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve has found they are environmentally stressed rather than diseased.

Though not conclusive on any one cause, struggling with sediment issues is a possibility the MPI report found on a major die-back that occurred at the reserve in March. Advocates for the reserve have long maintained sediment from large scale development earthworks, backing onto the reserve, are having a serious affect on the health of the reserve.

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Calling big spenders

Increasing the number of visiting cruise ships and targeting passengers is just part of a new tourism strategy for Auckland by Council’s tourism agency ATEED. There are hopes of nearly double the $8 billion coming into the city from tourism by 2025. But rather than massively more tourists, the aim is to attract more higher paying ones, including from conventions and cruise ships. Building the “night-time” economy is a priority as is encouraging local events to attract off-season visitors. There is a focus on “destination management” which concentrates on the quality and sustainability of attractions.

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Sobering Gulf report

Hauraki Gulf leaders are hopeful new Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage will pick up the baton for action in the latest State of the Gulf report and help implement a spatial plan for the park.

A lack of legal teeth, regulatory headaches, slow action and conflict continue to get in the way of meaningful change in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park according to the recently released 2017 report.

This is the third environment report detailing the ongoing decline of the 1.2 million hectare park. Advocates say conflicts between the Fisheries Act and Resource Management Act need to be sorted out and the collaborative Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari spatial plan implemented.

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George Kahi

Human bones a dilemma

Ancient Maori bones unearthed on Waiheke Island are being kept at the police station ahead of reburial. More extreme weather events are leading to erosion and cliffs slipping on the island, and presenting a problem for local iwi Ngāti Paoa. Some of these bones being exposed are on private properties, but not all landowners are comfortable about them remaining on site. Ngāti Paoa representatives have approached the Waiheke Local Board to create new burial sites.

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