Environmental Policy News

New Zealand Triples Hauraki Gulf Protection Area

The Government is taking a major step towards protecting the Hauraki Gulf for future generations, including nearly tripling the area of Auckland’s maritime area that’s under protection.

  • Marine protection nearly tripled with 19 new marine protection areas, increasing coverage to 18% of the Gulf
  • Bottom trawling and Danish seining to be banned from large areas
  • Tailored fisheries plan to support unique ecosystem

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins joined Conservation Minister Willow-Jean Prime and Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rachel Brooking today to announce significant new marine protections, which also includes a commitment to restrict the practice of bottom trawling from large areas of the Gulf.

“The Hauraki Gulf—Tīkapa Moana—is an absolute treasure and needs to be protected for the enjoyment of future generations,” Chris Hipkins said.

“From Anniversary Day yacht racing to time with families, this beautiful blue backyard is where Kiwis in the region have some of their best experiences.

“It’s also an essential and traditional source of food, and a vital part of our economy for the tourism, transport, and seafood sectors, with a recent assessment putting the economic value of the Gulf at $100 Billion.

“The Gulf, however, is at risk and its ecosystems are under immense pressures, causing concerning declines in marine life and sea bird populations. Those who live and work in the Gulf can see it’s changing. There’s more pollution and fewer birds.

“We know action is needed now. Today’s announcement follows years of careful work and extensive consultation and strikes a good balance.

“It will go a long way to protecting the Hauraki Gulf for future generations and backs Auckland as a world-class city and a great place to live.”

The Government plans to introduce the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill into Parliament before the House rises, nearly tripling the total area under protection in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park from just over 6 percent to about 18 percent.

The Bill includes:

  • Extending the country’s first marine reserve, Cape Rodney – Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island) and Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve, on the Coromandel Peninsula
  • Creating 12 new high protection areas to protect and restore marine ecosystems, while allowing for customary practices of tangata whenua.
  • Five new seafloor protection areas to preserve sensitive seafloor habitats by prohibiting bottom-contact fishing methods and other activities which harm the seafloor.

“The best way to protect this special marine ecosystem is to find conservation solutions which work for everyone—and that’s exactly what this action to revitalize the Gulf does,” Willow-Jean Prime said.

“A new marine protection tool, the high protection area, will recognize kaitiakitanga and cultural practices of tangata whenua while also meeting strong conservation outcomes.

"We have had significant contributions from those that care deeply about the Gulf with more than 7,500 submissions on the marine protection proposals at the end of last year and received over 10,000 submissions on the Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan.

“We’ve heard the community call for marine protection. Sustained action now is critical to ensuring we can continue to share stories of Hauraki’s abundance,” Willow-Jean Prime said.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rachel Brooking said the recently approved Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan was the first of its kind.

“Historically, we’ve treated each fish stock as separate, but they’re not,” Rachel Brooking said.

“Species like snapper, kingfish, and kahawai all live together in the Gulf, and are affected by local conditions, by the things humans do, and by environmental factors such as climate change.

“The Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan is the first fisheries plan which takes an ecosystems-based approach and is the first one tailored for a specific area. This is a significant move to protect a very special fishery into the future,” Rachel Brooking said.

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