Welcome to the first edition of the Gulf Journal for 2019.
Like many of you, I have enjoyed the warm weather over summer and been refreshed by the waters of the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana, Te Moana-nui-ā-Toi around my home on Waiheke Island.
As enjoyable as the warm weather can be, it also presents challenges. In this edition of the Journal, you’ll find information about NIWA’s recent reporting on the record-breaking warm seas that we have been experiencing. Whilst it may be nice for swimming and recreational fishing, warmer ocean temperatures could be disastrous for our marine life. It will be interesting to learn what our fishing industry and researchers predict for the effects of warmer seas in the years ahead.
We started the year with an excellent Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting, with two Government Ministers – Conservation and Māori Development – in attendance. We expect further announcements from the Government very soon about the makeup of the Sea Change Ministerial Advisory Committee, which will provide advice to Government about implementing the recommendations in the Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari Spatial Plan that are relevant to the responsibilities of central government.
We have also heard recently from the Minister of Fisheries about proposals for clearer quota management rules for, and reporting by, the commercial fishing sector. More details can be found in this edition. I encourage you to read the proposals and have your say. Submissions close on 17 March 2019.
As to the Forum itself, we’re going to continue to focus on the range of strategic issues we developed during 2018. After more consultation with Forum members I plan to put more effort into advocating for considerably more marine protection in the Hauraki Gulf. Currently, for example, only 0.3% of the Gulf is protected in marine reserves. I will be canvassing views on an indicative target of 20% of the Gulf being afforded some form of meaningful protection from fishing, harvesting and other interference so that the resulting protected areas form a major part of the ability to make marine life and overall health of the Gulf truly genuinely sustainable for the benefit of all in the future.
We will also be putting emphasis this year on fostering greater collaboration among the many and varied non-government agencies, voluntary groups, academics and funders working to improve the state of the Gulf. We see that there are enormous opportunities for working together more effectively and efficiently to complement the work of the local and central government agencies. We also want to facilitate the setting and realising of a really audacious goal for the reestablishment of shellfish-beds in the Gulf. Apart from the great potential shellfish beds have to reduce sediment in the Gulf, they will improve habitats that will foster the recovery of all forms of marine life and they will temper the ravages of storms in estuaries and to vulnerable coastlines.
Finally, buy a copy of the New Zealand Herald today – 1 March. Our annual Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Poster is enclosed. Beautifully illustrated by Dave Gunson, with graphic design by Shaun Lee, this year’s poster shows you the outline of the 1.2 million hectares of the Marine Park. The poster coincides with the start of Seaweek – Saturday 2 to Sunday 10 March. The theme of Seaweek this year is “Tiakina o Tātou Mōana – Care for our Seas”.
The Hauraki Gulf is our taonga. And our collective responsibility.