This article was published in the Nor-West News – a suburban publication on May 8th 2003
A Bethells public meeting followed Muriwai's example in overwhelmingly voting against a west coast marine park proposal. But park proponent Ken Catt believes groups of recreational fishing interests are highjacking the meetings to push their opposition.
More than 80 people jammed the Bethells Surf Life Saving Club on Sunday to
hear marine protection proposals in a discussion document prepared by the West Coast Working Group and Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society. Mr Catt believes many were not from the Bethells-Te Henga community. "We've no intention of stopping people recreational fishing," he says. "By pushing commercial fishing limits out from one to four nautical miles we hope it will leave more fish for recreational fishers," says Mr Catt. The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society Waitakere Branch secretary says he's becoming frustrated, particularly as the community-based working group has already spent two years on the issue.
"We're trying to find out what people want. We're asking people to send in a
questionnaire so people not in pressure groups get their views across as
well," says Mr Catt. He says the questionnaire closes on May 31, but a further month's extension is considered following calls from both meetings for a deadline extension of up to six months.
Mr Catt says one reason for proposing a marine park was because people said
existing legislation governing the west coast wasn't being fully enforced. Recreational fishing interests "option4" representative Trish Rea of Titirangi says the main issue is the intertidal zone. "They are talking mean high water springs to four nautical miles out, yet they are looking to protect nesting birds, stop plant and animals pests, watch shellfish harvesting and vehicle use on beaches, which are all land based activities," says Ms Rea. "Anyone can apply for temporary closure of areas. We don't need another bureaucracy. Why create another monolith when the tools already exist?" Ms Rea says many people at the meetings think enough legislation exists, but that more enforcement is needed. An action group is expected to be established this week by fishing
Further meetings to explain the west coast marine protection proposals are planned in west Auckland at the Waitakere City Council offices on Monday May 12 and at the Laingholm hall on Monday May 19, both at 7pm. Details are available from www.forestandbird.org.nz or phone 303--3079.