option4 representatives eagerly participated in the recent Hokianga Accord hui held in Ruawai, near Dargaville. The Accord is the mid north iwi fisheries forum, which includes the commercial and non-commercial interests of Ngapuhi, Ngati Whatua, other northern iwi and hapu, environmental and fishing groups.
Other regular contributors to this forum are Greenpeace, the Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa New Zealand, Forest & Bird and NZ Sport Fishing (ex NZ Big Game Fishing Council).
Several resolutions and a commitment to work together to achieve ‘more fish in the water’ are the spin-offs from the hui.
Coastal communities managing their local fisheries and having a wider say in marine protection were popular themes throughout the two-day hui.
There was general agreement that locals were more attuned, than Wellington-based bureaucrats, to what measures were required to protect marine life and prevent on-land activities having an adverse effect on their inshore fisheries.
Controversial issues such as the Crest Energy proposal to install underwater turbines in the Kaipara Harbour, aquaculture reforms, and kahawai mismanagement were also discussed.
Sustainable development of aquaculture was a priority. Pending government reforms had the potential to expand shellfish operations beyond current management areas and introduce industrial finfish farms.
Support was also given to advocate for Ministerial approval of the Te Puna mataitai application for the northern Bay of Islands. There was increasing frustration that the process had stalled, despite considerable community support.
After a four-year Court process the fisheries Minister is due to make fresh decisions for managing kahawai. There are fears that the available science will be manipulated to enable more of these valuable fish to be purse seined and exported.
Little regard has been given to fishers’ concerns that there are now few and smaller kahawai available, due to historic commercial exploitation.
Ministry management proposals are expected before the end of June and a collective response from the Accord will be developed.
This forum is continuing to advocate for more abundant fisheries and a healthier marine environment for the benefit of non-extractors, spearos and regular fishermen.