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Nor-West News 3 April 2003

These articles were published in the Nor-West News – a suburban publication on April 3rd 2003

Comment on draft proposals to protect Auckland's west coast close on Wednesday April 30.

A document proposing greater marine protection, released this week for public discussion, favours a marine park from South Kaipara Head (Papakanui
Spit) to Port Waikato. Other options include a marine reserves network, a marine mammal sanctuary or protection of "hot spots" such as Muriwai Beach and Maori Bay with culturally based restrictions such as taiapure (fishery management) or rahui (fishing ban).

The document, which includes a questionnaire, has been produced by the West
Coast Working Group (WCWG) with the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society
of New Zealand, and represents more than two years work. "Currently.....there is no significant form of marine protection on the west coast," says West Coast Working Group convenor Ken Catt. "It is important that a range of habitat types are protected ..... The Auckland west coast has a number of regionally, nationally and internationally significant landscapes and associated plants and animals deserving protection," says Mr Catt.

Listing threats to marine values, the document suggests off-road vehicle bans in sensitive areas containing endangered native birds, such as Papakanui Spit. The West Coast Working Group proposes marine park boundaries from Mean High Water Springs (MHWS) to four nautical miles out to sea, and from Papakanui Spit in the north to Port Waikato in the south. It would also extend into the Manukau Harbour to Big Muddy Creek. "This area will cover much of the known habitat of Maui's dolphin and that of a great variety of other marine life, such as fish species, whales, seals and giant bull kelp," says Mr Catt.

A marine park may ban commercial fishing, recreational set netting, waste discharges, dredging, and structures, while allowing many recreational activities. A mammal sanctuary would have similar restrictions, while a marine reserve would ban all fishing and seafood gathering. A boundary option for a mammal sanctuary could also extend it from Maunganui Bluff at North Kaipara Head to Pariokariwa Point south of Port Waikato.

The West Coast Working Group wants feedback before applying to Conservation
Minister Chris Carter for a marine management arrangement. It can also give presentations on request. Copies of the discussion document and questionnaire are available from Auckland Forest and Bird, phone 303-3079, or off the website

A submission deadline for a draft discussion paper on protecting Auckland's west coast has been extended until May 31st

The West Coast Working Group, which released the document last week proposing options for marine protection, decided this week to extend the April 30 submission deadline following complaints there was insufficient time, particularly with the Easter and Anzac Day holidays.

The document, prepared by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society in
consultation with the group, favours a marine park from South Kaipara Head to Port Waikato. Other options include a network of marine reserves, a marine mammal sanctuary and protection of "hot spots" such as Muriwai Beach and Maori Bay with culturally based restrictions.

Initial concerns about the proposals have been tempered with the submission deadline extension and the realisation these are by no means final proposals.
But coastal guardians warn beach users such as fishers that they need to have their say.

"The future of the coastline is at stake, so people cannot afford to be
apathetic," says Muriwai Beach Progressive Association president Anna Mason.
The association will discuss the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday April 15, 7.30pm, in the Muriwai fire station, to which all interested people are welcome.

Meetings among fishing interest groups are also planned. "The heat's gone
off a bit, but the fire's not out at all," says Auckland Recreational Fishers Association chairman Bernie Ward. Details of the proposals are on the Forest and Bird website: www.forestandbird.org.nz. Document copies are also expected to be available for inspection at Muriwai shops and the Kumeu Library.

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