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Sea Change

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Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari

Hauraki Gulf Marine Park map

An innovative new marine spatial plan for the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, outlining a comprehensive range of suggested measures to boost its health, was officially launched on 14 December 2016.

The country’s first marine spatial plan, Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari, has been four years in the making and follows the UNESCO best practice best practice approach to marine spatial planning. This Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) covers the Hauraki Gulf and encompasses the entire eastern coastal marine area of the Waikato region and the contributing catchments of the Coromandel Peninsula and Waihou-Piako rivers.

The non-statutory plan was the outcome of a comprehensive collaborative project overseen by a partnership between mana whenua and local and central government recognising that the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana, also known as Te Moananui ā Toi, is a national taonga which is under increasing pressure from water and land based activities. The focus of the marine spatial plan is to safeguard this treasure for all.

The drafting of the plan was undertaken by a multi-sector Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) after community engagement, and was approved by the mana whenua-agency governance group in November 2016.

Agencies involved in the non-statutory plan have included Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, local councils, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries. The SWG’s deliberations were informed by extensive scientific advice.

The background to the plan’s development is that the health of the Hauraki Gulf has been damaged and/or threatened for many years, with a range of problems identified. Examples of pressures include: depleted fish and kaimoana stocks, smothering of marine life by fine sediments washed off the land, increased pressures from population growth and development and declining biodiversity.

Those pressures on the gulf are continuing to grow. Population growth in the Auckland region alone is estimated to increase from 1.6 million people today to 2.5 million people by 2041. By 2030 more than 2.8 million people in Auckland and Waikato are expected to be living within 80 kilometres of the marine park. An increased population means a potential increase to the risk of the health and wellbeing of the gulf.

The MSP suggests tackling the gulf’s issues head on by:

  • eventually banning certain commercial fishing methods and reviewing the way fish stocks are managed
  • creating new marine protected areas and extending existing ones to better protect the marine environment and support fish and kaimoana stocks
  • creating new local “Ahu Moana” marine areas, to provide for joint mana whenua and community management of local marine areas to support sustainable use of the gulf by all
  • reducing sediment and nutrients getting into the marine environment from land-based activities
  • suggesting areas for an expansion of environmentally sustainable marine farming.

The partner agencies are now considering how they will implement its suggestions recognising that the MSP provides a strong framework to guide the management of the Hauraki Gulf, and will help shape future agreements, statutory plans and management actions.

The main pieces of Waikato Regional Council work the MSP will inform are the reviews of the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan and Waikato Regional Plan.

The full text of the marine spatial plan is available at seachange.org.nz