Kia ora koutou,
I’m pleased that the Minister of Conservation and Minister of Fisheries have recently chosen to respond formally to the SeaChange Tai Timu Tai Pari marine spatial plan and to establish a Ministerial Advisory Group to advance work on recommendations relevant to central government in that plan in the new year.
This is an important commitment as improved fisheries management and marine protection will play a major part in improving the state of the Gulf alongside the improvements in land-based activities currently being tackled by councils and DoC. As our population and visitor numbers grow, the effects of urban development and other land-use activities increase the stress on our fragile marine environment.
The increasing impact of recreational fishing will also need to be addressed. It is estimated that a quarter of a million recreational fishers haul up the same tonnage of snapper each year as commercial operators. And the numbers are increasing as evidenced by heavy pressure for more marinas and other boating facilities. Of the top 15 finfish caught in the Hauraki Gulf, only four are judged to be at or above sustainable populations. Crayfish stocks are the lowest in New Zealand and basically negligible in most parts of the Gulf.
This summer, please have a conversation with your friends on the topic of sustainable catches noting that the biggest fish make the biggest contribution to both breeding new stocks and to a role as predators which is necessary to maintain balance in species.
We are truly fortunate to live in this stunning part of the world. It is a global treasure, and we hope that you and your friends and families commune often with the magnificent environment of the Hauraki Gulf over the summer period.
I look forward with optimism to the year ahead for the Hauraki Gulf Forum in advocating for the improvement of the Gulf by being more effective in fulfilling our role of integrating and coordinating the work of central and local Government and the many community organisations and thousands of volunteers working to better the state of our Gulf.
Wishing you all a safe and happy festive season.
John Meeuwsen, Chairperson, Hauraki Gulf Forum