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RLIC Barrier Submission June 2003


Great Barrier Island Marine Reserve Proposal
NZRLIC

30 June 2004



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
lobster@seafood.co.nz

Department of Conservation
Private Bag
Port Fitzroy
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 Act.


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 by
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 from proponents.


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 fisheries …
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 future generations.

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 management tool.
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.

Economic benefits
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 can
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 communities.

SUMMARY
The NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council recommends that the Conservancy should evaluate
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 Reserves Act.


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 process.


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 proposal, the
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
Daryl Sykes
Executive Officer
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.

 

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