“This one is for the fish.”
Support for the Hakaimango - Matiatai Marine Reserve proposal, which was formally sent to the Director-General of DOC, and copied to the two Ngāti Paoa Trust Boards on 23 April, is steadily growing.
Most recently we have had strong support from highly respected people in the Waiheke community.
The editor of Gulf News, Liz Waters, devoted an editorial to the proposal in the 1 July issue. She wrote: “…the Hakaimango to Matiatia Point no-take marine reserve proposed by the Friends of the Hauraki Gulf burst on a fairly dismal scene two months ago, a breath of fresh air in the wake of yet another devastating Hauraki Gulf Forum report on the State of the Gulf.
“The proposal conjures up a vision of saving and nurturing the area’s especially diverse array of high-quality marine habitats: a unique series of rocky reefs, deep inlets and soft sediment bays, still with its richly dominant kelp diversity, virtually free of kina, and with thriving invertebrate communities and bivavle beds.
“No-take marine reserves do not restrict access - snorkeling and diving and the yachts that uses the vital north-west facing Owhanake bay anchorage , for example - but commercial concessions to exploits fragile remaining habitats can be prohibited.
“This one is for the fish.
“And we have the will. The Waiheke local Board in 2014, under the chairmanship of Paul Walden, obtained a Colmar Brunton poll of island residents and landowners on the vexed issue of marine reserves. It found that 64 per cent of us on Waiheke - and 67 per cent if we are Māori - wanted no-take marine reserves to address the woeful undersea landscape of the Gulf.”
And Lady Jennie Fenwick, wife of the departed, legendary Waiheke-based environmentalist Sir Rob Fenwick, who lives adjacent to the Te Matuku Marine Reseve reinforced these sentiments in a letter to the editor:
Re Liz Waters’ editorial and coverage of the SeaChange initiative in last week’s issue of Gulf News. I have to say if I was to second guess my late husband, Sir Rob Fenwick's view, I think like me he would share the view of many conservationists that Minister Parker’s announcement was somewhat disappointing. However he was more courageous than most and in fact he may have used stronger language to encourage the Government to take more urgent action. He often used to say that 'the science is done, we know what to do , all that is left is to do it !!'
The eleven proposed ‘High Protection' areas are a step in the right direction but they don't come into force until the end of 2024. This is a real concern. These are also ‘experimental’, moreover they are expressly designed to be open for some level of fishing - at what level evidently remains to be negotiated. I share the concerns of those who feel this will prove to be problematic but I will wait and watch with interest. I hope those policy makers involved also keep an open mind and if these 'high protection' areas fail to deliver the desired outcome a stronger plan of action is put in place.
Future restrictions on ‘most' bottom trawling and banning recreational scallop dredging are welcome however with extensions to only two no-take marine reserves, one outside the Gulf proper, and disappointingly not even one new marine reserve, ‘Revitalising the Gulf’ seems to be overselling the proposal.
Meanwhile though international and local scientific research reveals no-take marine reserves to be the most effective form of marine ecosystem protection, it seems none can be expected from officialdom any time soon.
Therefore the home-grown Hakaimango - Matiatia marine reserve off northwest Waiheke, proposed by the Friends of the Hauraki Gulf deserves our support. At 2500 ha it would be the biggest in the Gulf and bookend the existing Te Matuku Bay marine reserve (700 ha) now approaching its 20th birthday. Te Matuku Bay reserve is showing signs of abundance and a restored marine ecosystem and it is where I am lucky enough to call home. Scientific research tells us much, but living on the edge of a healthy marine ecosystem allows me to observe, in real time, that when mother nature is given a chance she knows exactly what to do. Let's give that chance to the Hakaimago - Matiatia Marine Reserve proposal.
In the previous issue of Gulf News, Shirin Brown, chair of the Hauraki Islands branch of Forest & Bird, added her voice, saying the marine reserve proposal should go ahead, and be supported by everyone in our community.
Mike Lee, the chair of the Friends group, has met with the DOC marine protection team in Auckland, with Ngāti Paoa kaumatua Denny Thompson, and the DOC Pou Tairangahau Māori protocol adviser, Hauauru Rawiri to advise and facilitate further pre-notification engagement with manawhenua.