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Mimiwhangata Submission

Mimiwhangata Marine Reserve Proposal

Submission by Brian Keene

September 2004


I am a charter boat operator, working out of the Bay of Islands, Tutukaka and Whangarei. I have been chartering for 6 years. I have been boating the Northland coast as a recreational boatie for over 45 years. I have big game fished, line fished and dived the Hauraki Gulf coast from the Great Barrier, down the Coromandel and up to Cape Karikari.

I have seen the stock of fish decimated by commercial trawling. No longer are there schools of kahawai on the coast and at Cape Brett, trevally all up the coast, blue maomao at Wairere Rock. I have dived the coast since 1968, and have witnessed the degradation of the fish stock. I have yet to see any evidence that recreational fishers are the cause of this. I have seen nothing in any DoC publication about the effects of nutrients and fertilizers on the kelp forest where the majority of rock lobster, and small fish of the food chain exist.

There doesn't appear to be any factual evidence that support the reserve at the Poor Knights. Though some fish varieties appear to have increased, many have in fact decreased. Rock lobster are hardly in abundance out there, though they are more prolific than they were in 1968, in my experience. So they should be after nearly thirty years of no commercial or recreational take. This is hardly a feather in anyone's cap, just nature taking its course.

Turning to Mimiwhangata, It appears to me that DoC are shooting in the dark and have no factual knowledge of the cause and remedial effect to preserve and promote the fishery. If Mimiwhangata has a reduced fish stock, why is the same thing happening at  Home Point off Whangararuru, at Bland Bay, at the Tutukaka Coast between Busby Point and Matapouri? What about Cape Wiwiki to the Cavalli Islands?  Why is there such a pressing need to create such a large reserve?

It is my standard practice, when setting a course from Guano Island at the Whangarei Heads, to Tutukaka, and beyond to Cape Brett, to drag lures. My customers expect this, and I enjoy the challenge when I am by myself or on a delivery trip. I regard this as a right. Under your proposal I would have to lift the lures off Whananaki or Elizabeth Reef and drop them again off the Whangaruru entrance. I think that is an unreasonable area of denial: I think that the majority of boat owners wouldn't bother: I think there would be no one to police the lifting of lures and therefore it becomes an unreasonable imposition on those who do. I further believe there is no justification for such an area to be quarantined. There is no evidence that this is a breeding ground nor an area were pelagic fish would gravitate to, that I have ever seen.

I don't believe that DoC have exhibited the competence to be put in control of such an area close to the coast and of significant value to recreational fishers. No other area that DoC control has shown the results that you seem to claim will happen at Mimiwhangata. Many holiday visitors rely on being
able to fish these sheltered waters for their food over the holiday periods. That DoC should attempt to deny these fishers their recreational rights is an abuse of power, and on unsupported grounds. DoC in its position as a virtual monopoly has already shown over the Aotea proposal at the NE coast of the Great Barrier that it is arrogant, insensitive to public opinion and quite capable of ignoring facts, providing no support for its proposals and snubbing the local residents, boaties and the representative organisations who make submissions. Again paucity of facts has been an element of the proposal to deny New Zealanders their rights at the Great Barrier.

As an individual submitter, I do not expect to have the same recognition as the New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council, the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council or option4, though I do expect to be heard. That DoC can ignore the three bodies I have mentioned does not bode well for my submission, but I believe that if DoC is to be credible, it must produce evidence of:

  1. What has caused the problem - sea bottom and condition degradation, recreational fishers or commercial take?
  2. Irrefutable proof on a scientific basis that supports DoC claims.
  3. What can be done about the afforestation of the sea bottom - kelp, weed, anemones, kina, nudibranchs, and the re-establishment of grounds where shellfish that provide food for fish can expand, instead of their current contraction.
  4. Irrefutable proof that reserves work. There appears to be considerable scientific proof suggesting that in fact they have no long term advantage or assistance to the marine environment.

Finally, I believe that DoC should review its position over a sensitive issue, consider why it is so fixated with reserves and gather some hard proof on a scientifically controlled basis to support its vitriolic claims.

Brian Keene
Shalako Charters
Box 426 Whangarei


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