Barrier Island Marine Reserve Proposal
NEW ZEALAND ROCK LOBSTER INDUSTRY COUNCIL
New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry Council
PRIVATE BAG 24-901 WELLINGTON
64 4 385 4005 PHONE
64 4 385 2727 FAX
Department of Conservation
Great Barrier Island
30th June 2003
Attention: JIM FLACK
A MARINE RESERVE FOR GREAT BARRIER ISLAND?
This submission is made on behalf of the NZ rock lobster industry
by the NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council. The NZ Rock Lobster Industry
Council (NZ RLIC) is owned and operated by the consortium of nine
regional commercial stakeholder groups – CRAMACs – whose
membership is comprised of rock lobster industry personnel including
CRA quota share and ACE owners for each of the nine fishery management
areas, processors and exporters. The NZ RLIC provides a coordination,
advisory and advocacy service for each of the nine CRAMACs and/or
the individual industry members who require those services.
The underlying objective for the NZ RLIC is that its work should
add value to the NZ lobster
fisheries and to the NZ lobster industry.
“Adding value” entails enhancing fisheries; saving money,
reducing costs, and/or getting
better bang for the bucks that are cost recovered from industry
by MFish; and/or increasing industry share of rock lobster fisheries;
and/or protecting against a reduction in that share; and/or gaining
better compliance with rock lobster fisheries rules; and/or protecting
access to established fishing grounds; and/or reducing the complexity
of record keeping and reporting regulations required by the Fisheries
The NZ RLIC assists CRAMACs in maintaining and enhancing the fisheries,
the right to fish,
and the profitability of the industry. The NZ RLIC plays a “watchdog
role” – routinely monitoring national and regional politics
and policies to ensure no adverse impacts on the agreed management
plans for lobster fisheries and/or on lobster fishing. The links
between the NZ RLIC, CRAMACs, other commercial stakeholder organisations
and the NZ Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) enable the NZ RLIC
to make timely, informed, and mandated submissions on these issues.
The NZ RLIC does not support the current DOC proposal for a marine
reserve on the north
eastern coast of Great Barrier Island. The NZ RLIC is not persuaded
that the marine reserve proposal is of any benefit, let alone the
extensive benefits alleged by DOC. The Marine Reserves Act 1971
specifies that a marine reserve is established for the purposes
of scientific study within an area that is so typical or unique
that it requires protection. DoC has yet to establish that any area
on the Great Barrier Island coast is so unique or typical that protection
is needed, nor has DoC indicated what scientific study is compromised
by the absence of any such area.
In the context of the 1971 Act the selection of a site to be declared
as a marine reserve is not
predicated by a deliberate calculation as to what impact a no-take
reserve would have on fishing. Nor is it predicated by an analysis
of the “least possible opposition” factor as has been
signaled by DOC in developing the questionnaire that accompanies
the January 3rd publication “Your chance to have a say”.
The correct process for anyone wanting to propose a marine reserve
is to conduct a biological
and geomorphological study of preferred sites to confirm typical
or unique, determine whether or not scientific study is compromised
by leaving the site as is, evaluate the threats and risks to the
integrity of the special features of any site, and if such threats
and risks cannot be mitigated by existing legislative or regulatory
remedies, or if scientific study is impossible whilst the status
quo prevails, then assemble a proposal to protect a specific area
for the purposes of scientific study.
Having therefore identified
a site or area which meets those initial qualifications required
the Marine Reserves Act 1971, the proponents would ideally confirm
boundaries and then consult with the community and interest groups
before submitting a final application. It is at that stage that
the rock lobster industry would evaluate whether or not the declaration
of a no- take marine reserve within the designated boundaries would
constitute an undue interference with commercial fishing.
In the case of the Great Barrier marine reserve proposal the questionnaire
that DOC has
distributed places the burden on respondents to make a commitment
to the inevitability of a marine reserve at Great Barrier Island
without DOC providing any information as to the size and extent
of the area likely to be closed to fishing or the reasons for such
a closure. By their own admission DoC has not yet decided the boundaries
of a proposed reserve.
In the view of the NZ RLIC it is entirely inappropriate for DoC
to utilise the preferences
requested of respondents to construct a marine reserve application.
The Marine Reserves Act 1971 must be the guiding reference in the
development of any proposal, not the opinions and/ or preferences
of individuals who would likely wish to avoid exclusion from their
historical and traditional fishing grounds and may answer accordingly,
or the opinions of the anti-fishing lobby who are no less self serving.
The Marine Reserves Act 1971 did not institute a popularity contest
– it did institute a process that requires accountability
In all good conscience the NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council could
neither support nor
promote the Great Barrier questionnaire to its constituents. There
is no certainty attached to the outcome other than that a marine
reserve application will be made for an area which DOC adjudges
to be least likely to attract objections from amateur and commercial
fishermen, and therefore more likely to be successfully implemented.
In those circumstances the underlying requirements of the Marine
Reserves Act 1971 become
secondary, rather than as rightfully expected by the NZ RLIC, primary
considerations in the development of the formal reserve application.
The NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council holds the view that it is not
just “local” residents and
fishermen who would likely be affected by the declaration of a non-take
marine reserve. All suitably equipped amateur fishermen and all
relevant ACE owners have the legislative right to fish anywhere
within the QMA 1 and CRA 2 management area boundaries subject to
existing fisheries regulations. There are numerous no-take marine
reserves established within the boundaries of those two management
areas now, and in our view there is neither need demonstrated nor
any advantage to be derived from any additional amateur, customary,
and commercial fishing exclusion zones.
Deception and Misrepresentation
With respect to the information provided to interested parties by
DOC, the NZ Rock Lobster
Industry Council submits that much of it is grossly misleading,
selective and incomplete. In particular the principal discussion
document – “A marine reserve for Great Barrier Island?
Your chance to have a say” is characterised as such.
It would be charitable to describe the misrepresentation of the
Marine Reserves Act 1971 in
that document as being reprehensible, but the NZ RLIC believes that
on the evidence of the DOC brochure it is not inappropriate to use
terms such as “deliberately misleading” and “unbelievable”
in the literal sense. The NZ RLIC extends those terms to describe
comments reported by DOC officials and their Minister in television
and print media.
Fisheries – depletion and behaviour
In no particular order of appearance in the January 2003 brochure,
and not attempting to critique all of the misrepresentations, the
NZ RLIC highlights the following selection:
p.3 …locals are reporting that fish aren’t as plentiful
as they used to be….early
feedback expressed …concern over the decline in the island’s
p.4 …most Great barrier Island locals know that the island’s
seas aren’t as bountiful
now as they were in the “old days”. A marine reserve
will help restore the balance and protect the marine taonga …for
So the inference can be drawn from the tone and content of those
first two pages that the
proposed marine reserve has been developed as a fisheries management
tool. Similar references are made elsewhere through pages of the
brochure. For example,
p.5 …help rebuild depleted stocks of snapper, crayfish and
other species …increase
the range of fish types …act as a breeding area and reservoir
for depleted marine species and provide a source of larvae to boost
populations inside and outside the marine reserve …protect
large, old experienced marine animals which may have important genetic
and social values not protected under fisheries rules …
p.10 …the area is one of the last strongholds of the giant
packhorse crayfish which
migrate to shallow waters … each season
DOC knows full well that the Marine Reserves Act 1971 is not a fisheries
DOC has misrepresented the status of fishstocks referred to –
and has certainly not provided a proper reference to support the
asserted depletion, nor any evidence to support the alleged “benefits”
claimed. Not that it is at all relevant in a marine reserves context,
but had an honest appraisal of fishstock status been undertaken,
DOC would at least be required to cite the appropriate references.
The NZ RLIC is confident that for the two stocks (snapper and crayfish)
noted in the DOC
brochure, the reference documents (Fishery Stock Assessment Working
Group Reports and/ or Fishery Assessment Reports) would not support
the claim of “depletion” . The reference to Great Barrier
being “one of the last strongholds of the giant packhorse
crayfish” is an unsubstantiated statement and an infers an
unnecessarily alarmist situation in regard to the species. Packhorse
rock lobsters are widely distributed in NZ waters and there are
numerous regulatory controls to ensure the sustainable utilisation
of the stock by commercial and non- commercial extractive users.
Those controls include an extensive closed area to protect juvenile
and breeding lobsters, size limits, bag limits, protections on berried
and moulting animals, commercial quotas and method restrictions.
The notion that large old “experienced” marine animals
have “important genetic and social
values” is pretty interesting, but where is the evidence?
And assuming that the notion can be reliably substantiated, why
is the declaration of a marine reserve a more effective response
than a maximum legal size restriction operated within a fisheries
regulatory framework? Maximum Size Limits (MaxLS) can result in
“old, large, experienced marine animals” accruing to
the standing stock.
DOC also has some intriguing notions about the Government’s
Biodiversity Strategy, not the
least of which is the failure to explain in the Great Barrier brochure
that “marine protected areas” are not necessarily intended
to be no-take marine reserves. However the more intriguing notion
in that same discussion (p.4) is “ ..may enable marine species
to move between protected areas – a series of safe havens
within movement range of adults or juveniles”.
The NZ RLIC requests that DOC explain and justify the concept of
“safe havens” and
migration pathways in the context of the Marine Reserves Act 1971,
or even in the context of the oft-quoted Biodiversity Strategy.
DOC notes (p.6) that “a marine reserve can boost tourism and
service industries as it
becomes established”. There is no evidence of that offered
in the Great Barrier Proposal. With the single exception of Leigh
– where a highway reconstruction led more visitors to the
coast – there are no studies on any other NZ marine reserves
that support the claim of tourism benefits. Nor is there any evidence
to even a casual observer of economic benefits being derived from
marine reserves in places such as Kapiti, Te Angi Angi, Mayor Island,
Long Island or elsewhere. A claim for economic benefits demands
some evidence of a cost/benefit analysis – which itself cannot
be done until DOC has catalogued the range of existing activities
within proposed boundaries.
Once again, not that it
is relevant in the context of the Marine Reserves Act 1971, but
DOC please specify - what tourism benefits are predicted for Great
Barrier Island as a consequence of the proposed marine reserve?;
explain how those benefits were assessed and evaluated; and, provide
the cost/benefit analysis of tourism in preference to existing use.
The Area of Interest
Another quote from the DOC brochure (p.8) – The Department
…would like to protect the full
range of coastal and marine habitats …the area includes a
wide range of marine habitats, many of which are not represented
in marine reserves elsewhere …”.
Which may or may not be correct. However the relevant issues are
– in the context of the
1971 Act – habitat that is so typical and/or unique under
threat or at risk to the extent that a protected no-take marine
reserve is useful for the purposes of scientific study?? Can DOC
therefore please explain the risk or threat that DOC envisages for
the north-east coast of Great Barrier Island? If DOC cannot give
that explanation, why the marine reserve proposal?
Does Size Matter?
Given that DOC proposes to declare more than 50,000 hectares of
coastal waters to be off limits to fishing, for no reasons other
than to satisfy what DOC misrepresents to be the Government’s
Biodiversity Strategy, and to satisfy its (DOC) own territorial
imperative and expand its jurisdiction – yes, size does matter.
Size also does matter when the Great Barrier Marine reserve proposal
is placed in the context
of the existing and intended fishing exclusions for the Hauraki
Gulf region. With multiple no- take zones including marine reserves
already implemented and DOC involved in additional proposals for
Tawharanui and Tiritiri Matangi marine reserves, the Great Barrier
proposal deserves, and has received, special scrutiny by the fishing
The NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council recommends that the Conservancy
their intentions in regard to a marine reserve proposal in the context
of the Marine Reserves Act 1971 and then present a proper proposal
for the consideration of the wider community. The current Great
Barrier proposal is little more than a self-serving “fishing”
expedition on the part of the Auckland Conservancy and as such has
elicited a well publicised acrimonious response.
The NZ RLIC submits that DOC must provide a more thorough evaluation
and justification as
to the need for no-take marine reserve, must accord more certainty
to the marine reserve boundaries and then institute a wider and
more formal public consultation process, as required by the Marine
The quality of the community responses, including those of the rock
lobster industry, will be
greater as a consequence of being able consider a proposal containing
clearly articulated rationale, properly defined objectives, and
pragmatic boundaries that do not establish risks of non-compliance.
The NZ RLIC contends that if the Auckland Conservancy is confident
that the site selected for
a marine reserve meets the pre-conditions of the 1971 Act then the
Conservancy should be confident in the outcome of the public consultation
The DOC proposal to sequester more than 50,000 hectares of what
is currently, and has been
for many, many years, an important recreational amenity and sustainable
economic generator is just outrageous. The notion that it is "in
the wider public interest" to dispossess a generally responsible
and environmentally aware fishing community of their historical
fishing grounds is unacceptable to the NZ rock lobster industry
and should also be unacceptable to the wider community.
The exaggerated claims made by DOC as to the potential benefits
that will be derived from the
declaration of such an extensive no-take zone are unsupported by
any factual analysis. Both the Minister and his Department have
consistently recycled misinformation and selective results of research
projects in other countries to illustrate and support their individual
and corporate ambitions.
The Great Barrier marine reserve debate is not just about 50,000
hectares, nor about poor
public consultation and notice. It is about inconsistencies in policy
and principle, misrepresentation, selective reporting, exclusion
from proper process, blind adherence to protectionist ideology,
and institutional contempt for legitimate alternative interests.
The DOC information sheet announcing the Great Barrier marine reserve
supporting speeches and media statements by the Minister Chris Carter
and the Auckland Conservator Mr. McCallum, and the selective media
reporting of the marine reserve proposal and process to date by
vested interests deliver all the rhetoric but none of the answers
to the issues that have been raised by those who oppose loss of
fishing opportunity in the absence of any credible threat or risk
that might justify the declaration of a no-take marine reserve.
The NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council does not support the proposal
for a marine reserve on
the north eastern coast of Great Barrier Island and will lodge a
formal objection to any application made for one that is not consistent
with the principles and purposes of the Marine Reserves Act 1971.
NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council
Research Programme Manager
1.CRA – Fisheries Act acronym for NZ rock lobster.
2. ACE – annual catch entitlement owned by commercial fishermen.
3.Question: “Are there any particular areas on the north-east
coast and offshore waters that you think should not be protected
as a marine reserve?….
4. Question: “Do you support the principle of a marine reserve
somewhere on the north-east coast of Great Barrier Island?”
“CRA 2 – the model results suggest that the current
stock abundance is higher than in the 1979-88
reference period, with exploitation rates of 20-25% in each season
under current catch levels. Model results seem robust to the range
of assumptions examined in the sensitivity trials. In particular,
the effect of assuming a higher non-commercial catch history in
the model resulted in similar current and projected stock status.”
– Rock Lobster Fishery Assessment Working Group Report –
2002 Plenary Report (MFish)
MaxLS is one of the many input controls used in the Western Australia
rock lobster fishery.