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Public meeting to discuss the Tawharanui Marine Park Proposal

Report on Public Meeting
Tawharanui Marine Reserve Proposal

Venue: Omaha Community Centre, Omaha
Date: Saturday 21st June 2003
Chair: Graham Price, local resident
Duration: 1.5 hours
Attendance: 70 people

Alan Moore, Auckland Regional Council (ARC) Coastal Resource Scientist produced the discussion document Proposal to change the status of the Tawharanui marine park to a marine reserve. Released February 2003. Bill Burrill, chairman of ARC parks committee was present to answer questions from the floor.

Marine Reserve Presentation
Alan stated there was “some evidence that the marine life is not as good as expected.” Cray and snapper numbers were up but the red moki were not abundant and they wanted to know why.

“There is confusion over what a marine park is and people understood marine reserves. There is a lack of compliance and enforcement activity.”

The impact of changing the status of the marine park to a marine reserve will mean “little change to peoples behaviour” considering the park is a no-take marine park. “There will be nil change within the marine park area.”

“The boundary (of the park) wriggles in and out and people inadvertently end up fishing there, people become criminals inadvertently.”

According to the purposes of the Marine Reserves Act Tawharanui Marine Park meets this criteria. There are five marine protected areas within the Auckland region. Tawharanui is the third largest protected area in New Zealand, this makes it special. Tawharanui Marine Park has the highest level of protection under the Resource Management Act. The Tawharanui regional park is 588ha and is 90km north of Auckland.

ARC want to change the boundaries “so people don’t inadvertently fish within this region.” The only difference will be there will be no fishing between the new and old boundary. Alan discussed other suggested changes to the boundary.

Advantages of the change to marine reserve status –
• Change of boundary will mean clearer boundary marked by buoys
• There will be a clearly defined boundary so people don’t end up fishing inadvertently in the area. It will be clearer for the public.
• Biodiversity will improve with bigger boundaries

Questions were raised regarding the statements in the discussion document relating to expected fish stock levels. What were ARC’s expectations? No clearly defined expectations but they were aware moki numbers were down.

In 22 years of existence there have been no prosecutions of people fishing within the park boundary, where is the proof that there has been illegal fishing activity?

If this marine park was a success what is the point in changing the status? General feeling is the public don’t trust DoC to manage the area. Locals are happy with ARC management of the park.

No clear definition of the difference between a marine park and a marine reserve in the discussion document. This makes it difficult to make an informed submission when this is not clarified.

Concern was raised if the park was changed to a marine reserve that the new Marine Reserves Bill being considered, if passed, would allow changes to the boundary without full consultation with the public.

Bill Burrill advised the meeting he knew the area very well. The existing boundaries were hard to define, particularly in a dinghy. Those present challenged this; it was pointed out again there had been no prosecutions of anyone fishing within the park boundary.

“This is not a formal application process before DoC. We want input from you. There will probably be a modified solution put forward, if it is put forward at all.”

Out of the audience of 70 people the majority voted in support of the current marine park. The locals are not interested in DoC taking over control of this area.

Overall opinion was to leave the boundaries as they are. Leave the area in its current marine park status. If the park is a success then there is no need to change it.

The Leigh Fishermen’s Association offered assistance to ARC to put in buoys along the existing boundary to make it clearer for everyone.

Fishing pressure is high in the area and locals don’t want to lose more fishing grounds.

ARC should have talked to the locals first before making arbitrary decisions. Decisions to draw boundary lines being made by someone with no local knowledge. Locals want another public meeting after ARC have received their submissions, possibly around October, Labour weekend, when more people are present in the area.

Bill Burrill suggested it be noted on the submission form that further consultation is required.

Extension to Submission deadline
Submission deadline of 18th July has been extended due to public interest. Submission deadline is now Friday 22 August 2003

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