meeting with Auckland Regional Council
Variation to the Proposed Auckland Regional Plan: Coastal
Firth of Thames and Kawakawa Bay Area
1 May 2004
Trish Rea and Kathy Walsh
10 May 2004
option4, NZBGFC, NZRFC, NZACA and
and Ratepayers Association.
Bill Cauldrey , chairman of Kawakawa Bay
ARC Reps: Bill
Burrill, Alan Moore, James Fuller.
Kawakawa Community Hall, Kawakawa
The Auckland Regional Council
(ARC) may introduce Aquaculture Management Areas (zones where marine
farming can be undertaken) to the Regional Coastal plan. This is
in response to the requirement in the Resource Management (Aquaculture
Moratorium) Act 2002 to investigate options for AMAs and in recognition
that the existing regime in the coastal plan did not provide a strategic
approach for the management of aquaculture in the region. The ARC
state the Firth of Thames has some existing aquaculture areas and
is an area of interest to the industry. The ARC has proposed changes
and wants to consult with the community to gather their views on
their proposal for Pakihi Island, the western Firth of Thames, Kawakawa
Bay and existing marine farm areas.
The ARC attended two meetings,
the first held on Saturday 24th April at Kaiaua, the second at Kawakawa
Bay. The public were offered the opportunity to attend a two-hour
open day discussion earlier in the day and a meeting in the afternoon
including an ARC presentation and public discussion. At least 70
people attended the public meeting held in the afternoon of the
1st May. This was a good turnout for such a small community but
they obviously felt it was worthwhile making the effort despite
the inclement weather conditions.
A consortium of marine farmers
has lodged applications for more than 5,300 ha of marine farms from
Matingarahi to Waharau and also at the southern end of Ponui Island
and Pakihi Islands. There are currently nine 5ha blocks of marine
farming on the western side of the Firth of Thames (FOT).
Wilsons Bay (AMA) marine
farming zone on the eastern side is managed by Environment Waikato.
This is an area of two blocks totalling 1000 hectares and is the
largest block on the eastern side of the FOT. Over 500 hectares
of smaller farms are established on the Coromandel (eastern) side
and managed by the Ministry of Fisheries.
The Auckland region has been
divided into four Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs) including
- Variation 3 - Kaipara Harbour
- Variation 4 – Mahurangi Harbour, Matakana River and Kawau
- Variation 5 – Great Barrier Island
- Variation 6 – Waiheke Island and Wairoa Bay (Clevedon)
Kawakawa Bay has been included
as a study area in the Firth of Thames, at this point. The Council
has not decided on whether to put an AMA in this area. Interest
from industry is concentrated on the north east of Pakihi Island
alongside the sandspit and two sites at the bottom of Ponui Island.
The ARC needs to obtain more information on proposals from this
area. ARC research to date indicates the effects on this area are
not likely to be significant.
The public meetings form
part of the preliminary consultation and ARC is planning another
meeting with locals in late June or early July to update the community.
Between May and July ARC will be meeting with tangata whenua and
interest groups to discuss the proposal. ARC wants Council approval
to any proposed variation by August. The variation will then be
notified, public submissions will be called for and hearings will
be held which will include joint hearings on variations 2 –
The ARC will make a decision
after the hearings. The decision can be challenged through the Environment
Court if people object to the outcome. ARC expects this process
to take several years. The Council recognise that marine farming
is a contentious issue.
ARC has issued a comments
form, which needs to be filled out, and returned to ARC no later
than 4pm Monday 17th May 2004. Post to Aquaculture
Variation to the Proposed Auckland Regional Plan: Coastal, Firth
of Thames and wider area, Policy Development, Auckland Regional
Council, Private Bag 92012, Auckland.
There was almost unanimous
opposition to the ARC proposal for marine farming in the western
FOT, Ponui and Pakihi Island and Kawakawa Bay areas from those present.
Points raised during the meeting included –
- Clevedon Coast Oysters have asked for 43.1ha for mussel spat
Pakihi Island, alongside the sandspit.
- Moana Pacific have asked, through a submission on the Variations
2 – 6, for two caged fish farming sites at the southern
end of Ponui Island.
- Thames Mussels Limited has a notified resource consent application
for two 500-hectare mussel spat catching areas at Waimango Point,
Matingarahi on the western shores of the Firth.
- A consortium, formed by applicants for approximately 6,000 ha
of applications for mussel spat catching at Waimango Point, now
want 5,300 for mussel farming.
- All applications should be dealt with together i.e. Ponui, Waiheke,
Pakihi, Kawakawa Bay, Thames, and FOT.
- An existing marine farm in Wairoa Bay is creeping outside its
lawful boundary, strong objection to the suggestion this and other
similar existing farms are likely to receive approval under new
- Existing marine farms in the Thames/ Coromandel and Great Barrier
Island area under Fisheries Act control are not included in the
ARC plan. These should be included so an overall marine farming
area can be examined on a regional basis.
- Council receives very little rental return from marine farmers
for the area they use.
- Objection to the lack of research into the exploding numbers
of oysters in the Kawakawa Bay area and the Wairoa River, Clevedon.
- Objection to lack of research into the effects marine farming
has on local shellfish populations.
- ARC were asked how much money had been spent on the Niwa research
for this project, ARC suggested it was likely around $100,000.00
- Locals who knew the area well did not consider Niwa research
- A suggestion was put to ARC to ask for more money to get more
in-depth research conducted.
- Reference was made to Marlborough Sounds studies which demonstrate
marine farming is damaging the environment
- No environmental impact reports have been completed, only Niwa
research and industry reports available.
- Some areas of high conservation value in FOT area will be denigrated
by more marine farming.
- Locals feel it is their duty to protect the FOT environment,
they are the 'kaitiaki' of the area for south Auckland residents.
- Water quality is already an issue in the western FOT, many signs
along the coast advising the public not to gather shellfish, questionable
if farming of shellfish would be worthwhile in such an area.
- Increasing population along the coastline is already having
an impact on water quality.
- DoC consider the Hauraki Gulf to be a key area for mammal breeding,
ARC responded with statement that DoC do not consider marine farms
to have a serious effect on mammals.
- An environmental scientist expressed concern as the farm proposals
would create a "wall" of farms across the Firth without considering
the environmental impacts this would have, particularly on the
wader bird and marine habitats and also the Ramsar site at Miranda.
She also objected to the poor information being made available
to the public.
- Questionable value of aquaculture for the area versus tourism
value, this area is advertised as the "Pacific Highway".
- Serious implications on navigational safety as the proposed
areas cover both sides of the FOT leaving a narrow channel to
- Pakihi Island provides safe passage from Ponui Island to the
mainland in high winds, marine farms could pose a danger to this
traffic seeking shelter.
- Concern for other marine users – yachties, water skiers,
those seeking anchorages. These people will have to move elsewhere,
putting pressure on other areas.
- Kahawai numbers are down around 80% in the past two years.
- Concerns for snapper population as the FOT is a known snapper
- A commercial flounder fisherman expressed concerns for his livelihood
if the marine farms impacted on the water quality further up the
Firth towards Thames. Total catch currently is around 400 tonne
of flounder per annum from FOT area.
- Will displace money spent on boating into other areas of the
region and into other activities.
- Kawakawa Bay boat ramp is the third busiest boat ramp in the
Auckland region. It doesn't make sense to have marine farming
in such a busy area.
- This process too rushed, ARC should take the time and spend
money to ensure the outcome of this process is a sustainable environment
capable of being enjoyed by future generations.
- Suggestion was put to ARC to draft a proposal and return to
the community for consultation on the draft document.
- A resident read out a statement, which the majority of the locals
supported. The statement was opposed to the ARC AMA proposal and
the effects it would have, which would ultimately affect the next
generation's ability to enjoy the area.
Very strong opinions were
expressed objecting to the ARC's plan. Although a couple of industry
representatives were identified at the meeting none spoke publicly
in response to the ARC or local's concerns.
There are serious implications
for the fishing sector as the FOT is a known nursery for snapper
and possibly other species. Commercial fishing is a prohibited activity
in and within 1000 metres of an AMA. Currently recreational fishing
is allowed within an AMA however boat discharges are prohibited
within 500 metres. There is no guarantee that recreational fishing
within an AMA will not become a prohibited activity in the future.
Navigation is also of concern.
The suggestion they would propose less buoys on the new farms could
have safety implications and may not be the correct way to deal
with the aesthetic issues relating to marine farming.
Water quality is already
a major issue on this coastline, if marine farming is permitted
and the farms fail because of poor conditions then the farms could
be abandoned and locals are left with the mess.
This issue will be worth
monitoring as it has major implications for those who use the area
and enjoy the marine environment. Other regional councils are following
a similar process so the outcome has national significance.
ARC will be accepting comments
on their proposal up until 4pm Monday 17th May 2004. Post your feedback
to Aquaculture Variation to the Proposed Auckland Regional Plan:
Coastal, Firth of Thames and wider area, Policy Development, Auckland
Regional Council, Private Bag 92012, Auckland.
ARC contacts: Alan Moore
09 366 2000
Fuller 09 366 2000