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Great Barrier Objection

Great Barrier Marine Reserve Application

Objection by Stephanie Railey

October 2004

 

Great Barrier Marine Reserve Proposal by the Department of Conservation

This submission is to be taken as an objection.

I have been visiting Arid Island and the East cost of the Barrier since 1987.

My partner Wayne Radford has been visiting this Region since the mid 1970's. I first sailed there in a Farr 9.2 and over the years we have been frequent visitors to the area.

During this time we have endured cyclones and sunshine over the years we have accumulated an intimate knowledge of the geography, marine life, and weather of the area. We fish in the area and the fish we catch are part of our staple diet at sea. We never take more than we need, we eat everything we take, and never sell or trade any of our catch.

We treat the area with respect, and contribute to the Gt. Barrier community in many varied ways. For example, we were able to repair the generator at Arid Cove, when parts were countless days away, saving the freezer full of food from being lost. We have attended several disasters, ranging from rescuing the crew from a yacht that foundered at the needles when inexperienced sailors misjudged a passage. To a rubber duck off Harataonga, which was on it's way to South America, with 3 people on board. We regularly did weather checks and searched for missing vessels for George Mason and Emmy at Gt. Barrier Radio VHF Channel 1 and also by purchasing fuel and food and other items, from Fitzroy, Whangaparapara and Tryphena Harbours we have contributed to the economy of the Island.

We are conservation minded and value the New Zealand environment. We own a lifestyle block, where we grow olives and raise animals, using Eco friendly methods. We also owned a charter vessel, (now sold) but during the time we owned it, we educated our clients to catch less, put back good breeders and take only what they needed for food. We had a larger size restriction for snapper and a reduced quota for the larger species such as Hapuku. We felt we were doing what we could to educate the masses. We are considered by many people to be extremely knowledgeable of the Inner and Outer Hauraki Gulf, foreshore detail, and Marine diversity. Because of our close familiarity with the area and our conservation-orientated lifestyle, we believe that we are in an excellent position to comment on this marine reserve proposal.

I have four children and three grandchildren. We have taught all my children to appreciate the need to protect the environment and when fishing, they catch enough for a meal and it is rare for any of us to catch the quota limit. We go fishing for food. Wayne has been fishing, sailing, and swimming and diving in this area for 28 years and I for around 17 years, our children have shared the experience and this lifestyle will continue for our grandchildren. We can think of no better way to raise our children with an appreciation of the environment, than to be a part of it. We both come from seafaring families so this love of the sea is in our blood.

When we enter fishing competitions, we land only enough to weigh in, which is usually around 6 or 7 fish, which is around the amount we would try to catch for food for the family. We eat those also.

My position on the proposal

I am strongly opposed to the establishment of the proposed Marine Reserve and this is based on the following.

We support the residents. The Department of Conservation has been campaigning for this reserve for more than 20 years. It has held at least two public surveys. In both cases the public, and in particular the residents of Gt. Barrier have voted heavily in opposition to the proposal. The applicant has used somewhat devious strategies in its attempts to persuade people into supporting the application. This has led to feelings running high, and in general the Island residents hold the department in contempt and distrust, which is a result of the devious and underhanded manner in which DOC has conducted its affairs. Consequently, there will be a high level of non-compliance and disregard for the boundaries.

This proposal enjoys an overwhelming opposition from those most effected by it. Specifically

  1. The Great Barrier residents as a whole.
  2. The Maybe Family and other residents of the North Eastern Coast.
  3. Local IWI.
  4. The Rope Family
  5. Non Commercial recreational groups and individuals

The Rope family sold Rakitu to DOC with a clear understanding that life would continue normally for them. Effectively this proposal reneges on that agreement. The department has made special mention of the fact that it has negotiated a special arrangement for the family to fish the area although members of the family are very strongly opposed to the proposal.

We support these people who share our love and emotional bonds with the area.

The area suggested includes the majority of the safe anchorage available to boaties once around the back. If the rangers suspect a person may be going to use any of the said equipment to 'take' from a marine reserve, legislation empowers rangers to be able to prosecute and confiscate boats and equipment. This will result in most boat owners feeling that it would be better not to stay in the vicinity, especially if they have enjoyed a day relaxing and fishing just outside the zone and have 'dinner' on board. For most vessels, travelling at around 8 knots, the trip around the back is a daylong event. Anchoring overnight, is what you do. The whole ambience of the area will be destroyed and in fact, boaties will prefer to go elsewhere, taking with them the cash injection that the Island economy relies so heavily upon.

Now, one could be mistaken, but this could be what the department is aiming for. With less income on the Island, the Islanders would find it hard to make a living, forcing them off. Services on the Island would take a turn down, including the lifeline ferry service and before long, the Island would not be a good place to live, unless you were a hermit, a DoC worker or one of the idle rich. Even the iwi on the Island, would eventually find it tough to survive.

The northern end of Gt. Barrier was left in trust so people would be able to continue to enjoy the outdoor environment. DoC has put up signage forbidding people from camping there which to my mind, goes against the deed of gift. This marine reserve proposal will effectively, make it impossible for people who would normally enjoy, after tramping in the bush to be able to fish off the rocks for the evening meal, (as would also happen in Harataonga, a popular spot for rock fishing in the Summer.)

In an effort to counter the expected strong objection again this time round, DoC has lobbied F&B, which have come in with a submission that supports the proposal. Buoyed up by the massive numbers of the F&B organisation, no doubt the department feels very confident its proposal will succeed. However, we counter this by saying that the F&B submission should be invalid.

It is extremely doubtful that any more than a handful of the members have ever visited the area, or ever will.

I submit that the F&B Organisation should be obliged that each of its members, who have supported the proposal, states clearly what their relationship is with the area. This should be done either with a scrutinizer who is accepted by the objectors to be independent, or equally and jointly with DoC and a person or persons selected by a panel of known objectors. Those who are not able to show a relationship or past use of the area, should have their submission deemed invalid.

I also submit that , in the event that DoC is seen to have employed a 'rent a submission' technique with groups such as F&B, then the purpose of those submissions is nothing more than political collusion. The submissions should be discarded as invalid and undemocratic, making the proposal, also invalid.

The Department has itself admitted , the number of recreational fishers in this area is not significant.

Considering the vastness of the area, the number of fishers is small. From my own experience, I know this to be a fact too.

However, for those people (and I am one), that do have a customary recreational usage of this area, this area is very important. Because the number of recreational users is low, the department cannot claim adequate justification for a no take reserve. In fact Impact from recreational (non-commercial) users is so low as to be insignificant.

We submit that the reserve is unjustified and will not be of any advantage to the environment, or the community. In fact, the only advantage to be got is to the department staff and a handful of scientists who have only in recent years, found the place.

The department does not have a history in marine affairs, and observation of DOCS management of Marine environmental issues over the past two years is of great concern to me. The department has clearly demonstrated a degree of incompetence in marine matters. The Department of Conservation has also shown an inability to manage the areas on the Island with which it is charged care of.

As a Taxpayer, I do not see that extending the role of the Department to Marine reserves is good and prudent usage of the revenue we provide.

I would like to see

  1. Current fisheries regulations used to conserve and manage fish stock
  2. For the department to concentrate more on land issues such as management of run off and silting. (The marine environment would benefit hugely. Far more than by creating no-take marine reserve zones.) Rabbits, cats, gorse, wasps are all a problem on the Island, which should be addressed first, using the funds which have been set-aside for the Marine Reserve.

    It is most distressing to think of the money wasted so far and the good that could have been achieved in these areas on the Island, had they stuck to their knitting.
  3. Marine Parks would benefit the marine environment through the exclusion of commercial fishing.
  4. Restricting the use of nets, in fact banning the use of all nets except hand nets, commercial and non-commercial.
  5. Ban the large mother ships from our waters. We do not need to feed the nations who have already depleted their own fish stocks. Bring back the smaller fishing vessels, those guys have a handle on the state of the fishery and far less wastage occurs.
  6. Seasonal close down to protect spawning species, or species struggling to recover. This could be a local community recommendation.
  7. Somehow, International banning of the use of F.A.D's which annihilate pelagic species.

We submit that the department is not a competent or capable manager of the marine environment.

 

Compliance and Law Enforcement

As DoC cannot adequately manage the land it already has under its care. How does it propose to police the Reserve? It would be a bonanza for the unscrupulous operator. In its proposal, DoC has stated it will use the Navy, Air force, Police, Customs, and its own resource. Again, unwarranted use of my taxpayer dollar and prohibitive. Is the Government prepared to give policing of this reserve precedence for funding over our already over-stretched health services, education and other essential infrastructure?

Is the Minister who will be responsible for rubberstamping this farcical reserve, aware that his Leader has disbanded the effective Air Force and it is almost non existent? Enforcement will be a hugely expensive operation and a burden on the taxpayers. Considering that the only beneficiaries of this reserve will be a handful of DoC scientists, the sheer extravagance of the operation is staggering.

We submit that compliance enforcement will be at best a hit and miss affair, with a few unlucky people being made public examples. Non commercial fishing, is a good monitor of the environment. DoC would do better to work with the community and together we could achieve positive results we both desire.

Marine reserve areas are not designated on electronic charts. Despite the departments claim that it will be easy to identify the area, this is not the case, and only large vessels with precision DGPS equipment and specially modified charts will be easily able to determine their relative position.

The proposal implies that this will be a reserve that can be enjoyed by everyone. This is totally unrealistic. Access is poor to nil. Aircraft can often not land at the airstrip, and access by sea around the Needles and Cape Barrier is unreliable due to strong rips and bad weather with ocean breakers making entry from the beaches and creeks risky and often dangerous maneuver. If DoC had any practical knowledge of the area they would be well aware of this.

For many craft it is a full days travel to reach Arid Island. DoC has banned overnight camping on the Island. Therefore, it is impossible for people to visit Arid unless by private boat. Doc states in its area that Trailer boat and Dinghies can be launched from the Estuary and Port Fitzroy. This is an extremely irresponsible and dangerous statement for DoC to make. To suggest that Small Trailer craft or Dinghies should navigate the Needles area, or the waters of the NE coast of Great Barrier is imprudent to say the least and once again demonstrates clearly the sheer ignorance of the department in marine matters.

*The document goes on to encourage navigation by small boat to Arid Island and the NE coast. This is grossly dangerous and irresponsible and will lead to tragedy. Only vessels capable of being self-sustaining in heavy weather for long periods should attempt this voyage. Certainly, dinghies and small trailer vessels should not be on this coast in any weather.

The statement that relatively few vessels do venture on to the NE Coast because of the dangerous conditions is a baffling bearing in mind the advise above*. Possibly it is an attempt to justify the reserve proposal by suggesting, there will be minimal effect to recreation users and perhaps an effort to comply with the requirement that the reserve must 'not interfere unduly with, or adversely affect any existing usage of the area for recreational purposes'. When clearly from the previous round of submissions, the resounding response from the objectors was that it would interfere unduly with and adversely affect existing usage.

The department has attempted to paint a rosy picture of easy access where nothing could be further from the truth. It is difficult, expensive, and often dangerous to access the area. To qualify this, very few commercial vessels have marine survey certification required to carry passengers to the area.

We submit that this area is not readily accessible to the non boating or small boat owning general public, and is therefore not an appropriate that the Department suggest otherwise.

Throughout the preparation process for this proposal the Department has violated fundamental democratic process. The Department has engaged in using outrageous lies and devious strategies in its attempts to persuade the public to support its proposal. There has been a plethora of public letters in the press about this, and the department has as a result enjoyed poor morale on the Island. This bad process is continued even more blatantly in this submission process where the Reserve Sponsors (DoC) are also the judges of the submissions. How this situation can possibly be legal and democratic defies belief. It would appear that the department considers it can make up its own law.

We submit that this submission process is fundamentally anti democratic, (which leaves me thinking it can only be dictatorial.)

The proposal states that few people will be effected. DoC has not conducted a feasibility study for Islanders and the boating fraternity have been similarly excluded. We will certainly be effected, and so will many of our friends. The Mabeys, Ropes, Iwi, and the Great Barrier residents will certainly be effected. Many other people we know will be affected. With this tactic, DoC is displaying an openly arrogant attitude and make it quite clear, we just don't matter.

But answer me this, if DoC claim so few people will be effected, then there must be so few people fishing the area. So shutting so few people out will result in a very small beneficial effect on the marine Biodiversity, making the forming of this reserve, a waste of time and money, achieving nothing.

We submit that there is no justification for the reserve. According to the proposal, the area is only lightly fished and the introduction of a no take region this large, may in fact be responsible for triggering an imbalance in the Biodiversity of the region with increased fishing strain on surrounding areas.

Who will benefit?

No one. Not the reserve, not the public and with an election year coming up, not the politicians or the DoC staff. This reserve is an experiment on behalf of a very few marine scientists. The entire proposal is based on extremely poorly researched premises. For the satisfaction of a handful of scientists and politicians we are asked to sacrifice the fundamental rights of our mokapuna and generations to come to take a meal from the ocean . This area is perfectly suited to recreational use. It has many sheltered bays and anchorages for appropriate vessels. It is a very desirable area for human activities. The proposal is quite correct when it paints a picture of great beauty and uniqueness. This is the perfect area to go surfing, camping, and swimming sailing and diving. The right to catch a fish for dinner in this area should be celebrated – not denied. The proposal seeks to steal this wonderful area from the public and place it under lock and key for a very few privileged scientists.

 

There is already a large no fishing zone in this area

For many years the navy has operated an underwater listening station out from Kaitoki Beach. This is a large area where fishing and anchoring are prohibited. The department has made no attempt to research of this area according to Dr Grace, who was asked if they had, at a Barrier community meeting.

When added to the proposed area, almost 60 % of the coastal area of the Gt. Barrier coastline is consumed by government and is inaccessible to recreational users. Not only this, but the coast from Medlands beach southwards to Cape Barrier is inhospitable and plagued with strong currents and overfalls. This area can be considered unusable for recreational use also. The combined effect is that over 75% of the coastline is not useable for recreational fishing.

I submit that the proposal denies residents and other users any use of the entire coast for fishing because of these complimentary effects. It is unnecessary to have a formal reserve because a large amount of the coast is already protected either by the Navy prohibited area, or by the inhospitable nature of the southern coastline.

After many, many years of association, we have a deep emotional tie with this area, and a strong commitment to the conservation of the area as well as the right for all to have, to enjoy the pleasure of catching a fish for food. It is a part of us. The tie to the sea has been in our family for many generations, and we intend to fight for the preservation of the fundamental natural right to be able to provide ourselves with food and safe Harbour at sea, without fear of dictatorial governance, impinging that right.

We submit that this proposal seeks to deny fundamental natural rights. The alternative is resentment and a lack of interest or support for the welfare of the area.

The entire process of this attempted property theft has been a travesty of democracy. Here we have seen the full force of a huge government department empowered with an unlimited budget provided by us the taxpayer endeavoring to steal fundamental rights from the people.

The process has been hopelessly flawed from the outset, and this travesty continues with the Department being both the proposer, and the assessor of the submissions.

We have tried to talk to the Department about our feelings, but to no avail. We have met with arrogance and contempt for our feelings.

We hope that this submission will get a fair reading and that the reader will take it in the spirit it was written – that is as an attempt to prevent an unjustified, ill conceived project with unworthy motivation from achieving success. We are conservation orientated, and wish to conserve this area for the enjoyment of all. We do not believe that well managed recreational fishing constitutes any environmental threat to this area. There are other strategies that do not steal fundamental rights, but which on the other hand have a far greater chance of yielding the result that all parties seek – namely the conservation of the marine environment for the enjoyment of all.

 

Submitter

Stephanie Railey

 

I wish to speak to my submission, if there is a format for this provided by the legislation.

I will have morale support attending with me.

The venue will need to be in the Auckland region, (preferably North Auckland) otherwise assistance will be required to enable us to attend.

 

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