Barrier Island Marine Reserve Proposal
On behalf of the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council.
To the: Department of Conservation
Great Barrier Island
Attention: Jim Flack
The Council thanks you for this opportunity to present its submission
to you on the Marine Reserve for Great Barrier Island proposal.
As a general statement the Council is not opposed to the creation
of Marine Reserves. In broad terms we believe they should be in
the right place for the right reasons. The protection of biodiversity
and the protection of unique or at-risk ecosystems are just two
aspects in the overall management of the resource. Marine Reserves
have a place in the suite of tools to responsibly manage our coastal
and marine environment. However, they are simply one of many tools
we can currently use for this purpose.
The Council and Representation:
The New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council represents national
and regional associations, clubs, corporate and individual members.
Whilst a number of these have their own policies and will make submissions
to you we believe they will be consistent with this submission lodged
by the overall body.
The national organisations represented are N.Z. Angling & Casting
Association, N.Z. Big Game Fishing Council, N.Z. Trailer Boat Federation,
N.Z. Marine Transport Association, N.Z. Sports Industry Association.
The regional associations cover the whole country and are in Northland,
Auckland, Bay of Plenty/Waikato, Taranaki, Wellington, Tasman Bay,
and Otago. The Council also has some Maori groups as members with
Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu as a regional association. We also maintain
a close contact with many of the tribes affiliated to Te Tai Tokerau
in the north.
The N.Z. Underwater Federation is a national affiliate. However,
we do not purport to represent this member organisation on this
proposal or in this submission. In saying this we represent many
of their member clubs who participate in underwater spear fishing.
Some of our larger affected member boat and yacht clubs include
the members of the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club (3500) and Auckland’s
Outboard Boating Club (1680).
The membership represented both directly and indirectly is in the
vicinity of 300,000 recreational and sustenance fishers. In addition
by default we represent the public interest in the fishery and those
fishers who are non-members. We say by default because we are the
only constituted representative body that has been recognised by
Government and the Courts of doing so.
We have a strong association with the public representative organisation
option4 and support their submission on this proposal.
The 1996 research to provide estimates of Recreational and Sustenance
Harvest Estimates found that there are approx 1.35 million recreational
and sustenance fishers in New Zealand and therefore we effectively,
through our associated member groups, represent that number.
The Council has been recognised in two court cases as representing
the recreational fishers of New Zealand. The Council was attached
to these cases without its prior knowledge and the court papers
show it was ordered “to represent the recreational fishing
public of New Zealand”. The first of these was the order of
attachment to the High Court Action on the Manukau Taiapure application.
The second relates to the SNA1 challenge of the Minister’s
decision that was heard by the High Court. The Council also holds
“Approved Party Status” for consultations with the Ministry
of Fisheries and is recognised by them and the Minister of Fisheries
as a stakeholder group.
The Council has a Board of elected officers and members. The Council
consults with its members and the public using various means. These
include newsletters, its web site and various press releases. In
addition it consults through the various fishing media and meetings
it holds and receives input through those forum.
This submission has been prepared and presented after consultation
on our behalf by:
Executive Board Member, Keith Ingram.
First we must congratulate the Department of Conservation’s
personnel for the manner they have gone about notifying this proposal
for a marine reserve on the north-east coast of Great Barrier Island.
We note that the original timetable for submissions expired on March
31 of this year and was extended to June 30 to allow for wider input
from interested parties. We acknowledge this and further note that
the discussion document was not released for public consultation
until around this time (March 31) some five months after discussions
started with island communities.
We hereby suggest that as a significant representative organisation,
representing the public fishers at every level of fishery management
and conservation, that it was unfortunate that your Officers did
not extend to us the same courtesies as was extended to the Treaty
partner and local Iwi at the same time. We are after all, under
Article III of the Treaty of Waitangi, an equal partner with tangata
whenua, as people of this land.
As stated above, the Recreational Fishing Council has the authoritive
and active position as the recognised representative of both recreational
and sustenance fishers, a position accepted by all Government Agencies
and Ministers of the Crown, including the Minister of Conservation
– an important point that we believe you should note.
We are concerned about our natural marine resources and support
the protection of the marine environment and sustainable utilisation
of fish and shellfish stocks.
We equally believe that marine protection areas should be located
in areas of unique biodiversity and scientific needs and in locations
where the public has been fully consulted. It is important for fairness
and transparency of any process that this consultation be as widely
canvassed as practical. Not to do so and to only talk with local
residents may open the question of “hidden agendas and corruption”.
We recognise the valued support and efforts of NZ Professional Skipper
magazine, the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club and option4 in circulating
your proposal to the wider public as practical. If it was not for
these organisations and this Council, your discussion document would
not have received a fair airing.
It is important that we attain the correct balance in protecting
marine biodiversity whilst ensuring sustainable utilisation of fisheries
resources and the integrity of existing rights to go fishing will
be at the core of the NZ Recreational Fishing Council’s submission
to this proposal.
It is with some significant concerns that we make this written submission
in writing rather than use the official questionnaire. This is because
of the manner in which the questionnaire has been worded. We would
not suggest for one minute that the Department’s Officers
would purposefully introduce any bias into a public document for
public consultation. Nor would we suggest that it would present
loaded questions designed to lead the public into responding in
the desired direction of the department’s viewpoint. We accept
that there have been a number of inadvertent errors made in the
drafting and notification of this proposal thus far.
However, we find that in giving full due consideration to the document,
we cannot answer the questions truthfully, as we believe them to
be misleading and loaded to give a general supportive view, while
not allowing for any qualatitive comment. This we believe is unacceptable.
We would equally remind the Department that this is not the first
time such a proposal has been mooted on this part of the coastline
of Great Barrier Island. We would strongly suggest that the reasons
no previous proposal was accepted or proceeded with then, is no
We have a concern about the manner in which DOC has gone about advertising
this proposal and the venues for public meetings. To date we have
not had any notification of any public meetings hosted by DOC on
mainland New Zealand, and yet it will have the greatest impact on
these users and stakeholders’ rights of access. This action,
we believe, has disadvantaged many recreational fisher- folk and
Auckland’s boaties from hearing or partaking in any public
discussion with the proponents prior to submission close off date.
As such, we believe the Department’s actions to date on this
proposal are inconsistent with the code of ethics which is detailed
in DOC's own handbook on “Guidelines for the Proposal of Marine
Reserves” and the Government’s policy on public consultation.
Consultation with Iwi:
We equally believe that Iwi have not been fully consulted and that
their representatives and local Hapu are overwhelmingly concerned
about and against the proposal. We note that they have significant
concerns in that the proposal will remove their access and customary
rights to traditional fishing and shellfish areas, to harvest kia-moana
for both sustenance and the functions of the Marae.
We should not need to remind the department or its Officers that
Maori are the largest single community group that harvest kia-moana
- shellfish, within the provisions of the Amateur Fisheries Regulations.
We would suggest that this right to harvest seafood for sustenance
has been equally shared by all New Zealanders. Therefore we must
point out the obvious fact that the marine reserve proposal will
remove the only sustainable shellfish gathering area on the Island
for both local residents and visitors alike.
Great Barrier Island’s significance and importance:
Great Barrier Island is of significance importance to all of Auckland’s
boating public. It is after all the recognised jewel in the crown
and protector of the Hauraki Gulf. It is the destination that is
planned and prepared for, one that many repeat year after year or
several times a year. The northeast coast is widely recognised for
its safe anchorages, fine fishing and diving opportunities and its
protection from the prevailing southwesterlies. Arid Cove or Rakitu
Island is widely talked about and recognised as a place to visit.
The area maintains a sustainable fishery.
Risks & Fisheries management:
It is scientifically recognised that marine reserves are not a fisheries
enhancing or management tool. We have a raft of tools under the
Fisheries Act for that. The document talks of new discoveries and
not knowing enough about New Zealand sea life. It talks of marine
reserves being the national parks of the sea and yet it fails to
draw the comparison to a conclusion and state that the public is
permitted to hunt for sport, food and sustenance in a national park,
but cannot do so in a marine reserve.
It talks about the risk to biodiversity and individual species.
Well, no New Zealander would wish that any species should be put
at risk, so let’s identify the species first, then their habitat,
isolate the threat, and eliminate the risk by using the most suitable
tool we have at our disposal.
The NZ Recreational Fishing Council strongly supports protection
of the marine environment as a foundation of its advocacy for consolidating
and enhancing the rights and opportunities of the recreational fishing
community. In appropriate circumstances and after proper consideration
it may be that discrete areas of coastline should be set aside for
scientific study or passive public enjoyment.
If establishing a marine reserve proves to be the only tool suitable,
then so be it. In the proper process, the public would have been
consulted, the costs and benefits weighed up, all options explored,
opportunity adjustments agreed and then a marine reserve may be
declared with full support only after all other appropriate options
have been explored and discounted.
Given that it is stated that this application will be made under
the current Marine Reserves Act 1971, these options include investigating
the use of:
The Marine Reserves Act 1971 is intended to protect and preserve
areas in the marine environment for the conservation of marine biodiversity,
which provides the most comprehensive level of protection for both
species and the marine habitat.
The 1971 Marine Reserves Act provides for areas of the sea and foreshore
to be declared as marine reserves for the purpose of preserving
them in their natural state for scientific study. Such areas may
contain underwater scenery, natural features or marine life of such
distinctive quality, or be so typical, or beautiful, or be so unique
that their continued preservation is in the national interest.
The Council supports this definition of a marine reserve. It is
objective, measurable and succinct, and if done properly it can
be seen and accepted by everyone as being somewhere special and
different where extractive activities are inappropriate and should
Marine reserves are but one tool to protect marine ecosystems and
biodiversity. But they cannot be allowed to become the only tool
or the tool of first choice if suitable alternatives are available.
Just as a system of national parks, state forests, regional parks
and scenic reserves offer different levels of protection to the
terrestrial environment, the marine environment also has a hierarchy
of tools to protect it.
We must in identifying the risk be prepared to use the most appropriate
tool to eliminate the threat. To do otherwise would be irresponsible.
These options should include:
The Fisheries Act 1996, the prime purpose of which is to ensure
sustainability of the fisheries resource and maintain biodiversity.
Fisheries plans offer stakeholders a mechanism to protect, maintain
or restore habitats and ecosystems which are important for marine
The Quota Management System (QMS) allows the NZ fisheries resource
to be managed in a sustainable fashion by setting catch limits well
above the level at which the fish stock can replenish itself. The
QMS is viewed as world-leading by other jurisdictions which do not
have managed fisheries with sustainable fishing practices. Arguments
imported from these jurisdictions to justify marine reserves as
a tool to manage fishing activities should be discounted, because
NZ enjoys an excellent and sustainable resource management programme
that is now recognised worldwide.
Mataitai and Taiapure reserves, established under the Fisheries
Act, are areas set aside as traditional fishing grounds where tangata
whenua have a special relationship with the area. While both Maori
and non-Maori can fish in these areas, bylaws can be recommended
by the tangata tiaki restricting or prohibiting fishing if they
consider it necessary for sustainable management.
Regional Coastal plans (Resource Management Act 1991) allow regional
councils to manage coastal areas in association (or at least not
inconsistently with) the NZ Coastal Policy Statement. The Statement
makes it a national priority to preserve the natural character of
the coastal environment and to protect significant indigenous vegetation
The Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 is intended to protect particular
species such as dolphins, whales, seals, etc.
The Wildlife Act 1953 establishes wildlife sanctuaries and refuges
to protect particular species in a defined geographic area. Those
with a marine component are usually found in inter-tidal areas.
While limited in their extent, the reserves provide permanent protection
and are part of the protected areas network.
In addition, there are a number of controlled areas around the coast
such as: Submarine cable and pipelines protection areas, trawl exclusion
zones, shipping routes and the like which prohibit or restrict anchoring
or fishing activities.
The current range of legislation allows for a comprehensive range
of protection tools from full protection of all marine life to safeguarding
specific species or customary rights in local areas. Also included
are other Acts such as the Conservation Act, Defence Act, Transport
Act, Submarine pipelines and cable protection Act, Treaty of Waitangi
Settlement Act and the Resource Management Act, all of which have
the ability to offer protection to our marine ecosystem.
It is important to keep this in mind when proposing any marine reserve,
which will in effect severely restrict or erode recreational amenity
and sustainable economic development.
Great Barrier Island proposal:
In reviewing the Great Barrier Island discussion document, we see
no just reason derived from any identifiable threat that would give
credence to closing off such a vast area for the purposes of a marine
reserve. The document fails to identify any risk or discuss what
might be the appropriate tool to remove any such threat to any part
of the biodiversity or marine eco system.
We therefore have no option but to oppose the proposal in its entirety
until such time as DOC presents the appropriate data, scientific
evidence and cost benefit analyses to warrant a proposal of the
magnitude such as this, which will remove access rights to the wider
public to harvest seafood for sustenance.
Trade-off scare tactics:
It has been suggested that the magnitude of this proposal was to
introduce an element of scaremongering so that the public might
accept a lesser proposal at a later date.
We do not believe that it is DOC policy, nor would the Minister
condone or support such tactics from their Officers, and as such
would ask the Department to either confirm or deny that such a policy
or secondary proposals exist.
Finally, it was with some concern that we noted a media report from
DOC in June regarding a potential act of environmental terrorism
when someone dumped two dead possums near the DOC offices on Great
Barrier Island with the DOC Great Barrier marine reserves proposal
forms attached to the carcasses.
Neither this Council nor any organisation we represent would support
or condone any illegal release of noxious animals onto any reserve
or protected island. We are extremely concerned about the threats
we face to our marine environment and the constant potential bio-security
risks from foreign shipping without creating one ashore.
We do not believe it was the work of a fisher or marine farmer-extremist,
because there is no perceived gain to either cause or profile. Although
one has to ask, is it illegal to be in possession of a frozen, skinned
and gutted possum as shown on television, processed for consumption?
We do believe that some skulduggery was afoot, and that it was equally
possible that the perpetrator of this act may have been an environmental
extremist who was becoming concerned that opposition to date for
their marine reserve proposal far outweighed any support. Given
that submissions were to close at the end of June, setting up such
an act to look like the work of either a recreational or commercial
fisher would suit their environmental cause. There was a motive
and potential benefit, because in doing so they would hope to raise
the environmental profile in the media and curry last- minute support
for the reserve, whilst denigrating the position of other lawful
Either way, if and when the perpetrator is caught, we would suggest
that they be keel hauled the length of a mussel farm and then hung
out to dry in a gannet colony.
Seriously! We neither condoned nor supported the illegal release
of the rabbit virus and would not support any such illegal activity
now or in the future.
The issue of environmental terrorism is one for your Officers and
the Police to deal with, without casting aspersions.
We ask that you acknowledge this submission to the writer’s
address so that we are satisfied that our concerns have been properly
We further invite you to discuss this submission and any further
investigations of the options relating to this proposal in the future
We look forward to such discussions.
4 Prince Regent Drive
Half Moon Bay
Ph: 09 533 4336
Fax: 09 533 4337
Minister of Conservation
Minister of Fisheries
NZRFC and its affiliates and member groups.
Other interested parties
Sent: 30th June 2003
PO Box 26-064