It is great to see the proposed Hauraki Gulf marine spatial plan launched after more than three years’ work by the Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari Stakeholder Working Group.
Listening to members of the working group, it is clear how much commitment, careful enquiry and respectful engagement they have brought to their task.
The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act calls for the protection and enhancement of the life-supporting capacity of the environment, and provision for the relationships of tangata whenua and for the wellbeing of communities.
But successive State of our Gulf reports prepared by the Hauraki Gulf Forum pointed out how this taonga has been transformed over two lifetimes, with most indicators showing negative trends or at levels suggesting poor environmental condition. We called for “bold, sustained and innovative steps to improve management and utilisation of resources”
The proposed marine spatial plan identifies five pathways aimed at creating long-term health and wellbeing for, and from, the marine park:
- Transitions to create high value wild caught and farmed fisheries which recognise the Gulf and its produce as a taonga.
- Creation of marine reserves and protected areas and scaled up investment in marine restoration initiatives.
- The setting of load limits for sediment and nutrients, and investment of sediment traps and stabilisation.
- A mechanism for mana whenua and communities to work together to define local-scale coastal management.
- Ambitious engagement with the ‘hearts and minds’ of all Gulf users.
These are game changers and signal a new way of doing things.
They deserve thorough consideration by agencies and will require continued leadership by mana whenua and stakeholder groups for successful implementation.
The plan is the step forward we were seeking. Considering how the Hauraki Gulf Forum can exercise its powers and functions to support its uptake will be our priority in the new term.
The full text of the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari marine spatial plan is available at www.seachange.org.nz