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option4 Update #60 NZFN July 2005

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Confiscation in the name of Conservation

NZ Fishing News
July 2005


This article was originally published in the New Zealand Fishing News August 2005 edition.

Without due process or any justification the proposed marine reserve off the north east coast of Great Barrier Island has been approved by Chris Carter, the Minister of Conservation. Although slightly smaller than originally proposed, the massive 49,500 hectare Aotea marine reserve only needs the agreement of Carter's two Cabinet colleagues to become established.

option4 is appalled Carter has approved the reserve knowing full well the tactics the Department of Conservation used to promote their initiative. The Ministers of Transport, Pete Hodgson and Fisheries, David Benson-Pope have been asked to give their concurrence (agreement) to the proposed reserve.

Local Response

Feelings are running hot on the island and tangata whenua have occupied Okiwi Station in response to the announcement. Lynette Hoey, Motairehe Marae Trustee and Convener of the protest sent this message via email, "Ahi kaa tangata whenua together with our communities, have been forced to assert our mana whenua as Kaitiaki, by taking up occupation at the Okiwi Station, in opposition to the establishment of the recently announced Aotea marine reserve. We will remain at the station until the Minister of Conservation & Local Government, Minister of Maori Affairs, Minister of Economic Development & Associate Minister, comes to Aotea (Great Barrier Island) and meets "Kanohi ki te Kanohi" (face to face) with tangata whenua, and address the concerns impacting on the protection, management, growth and future of our communities concerned."

We encourage you to offer support to these people. Their direct action is all they can do right now to express their outrage. Here we have a contemporary grievance unfolding right before our eyes. Community, boaties and tangata whenua standing shoulder to shoulder sharing very similar sense of loss, frustration and anger. Any contributions will be very gladly accepted – please post to Motairehe Marae, RD1, Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island. Or call Lynette Hoey on 09 4290790.

The exclusion of 508 hectares around Whangapoua Beach does nothing to address the overall concerns that a no-take reserve of this magnitude is not required for this area. It is merely a stunt designed to promote the government's arbitrary goal of achieving a 10% target of marine protected areas by 2010. Kevin Burke of Okiwi explains, "From a local viewpoint, the exempt zone is a bit like giving beads to the natives, pretty but useless. It is also an insult. It would take a trawler about 2 hours to clean it out, and they are often in the excluded area. There was one working the area last week. They will give it a hammering. What else do you do while sheltering on a lee coast? We should rename it 'The Dead Sea' now."

Summary of Issues

  • Poor process has not been inclusive of tangata whenua and the public.
  • Confiscates some of the best fishing grounds available around the Hauraki Gulf.
  • No justification for such an extensive no-take area.
  • Against the interests of locals, tangata whenua, others who enjoy the area and our future generations.
  • Creates a grievance that tangata whenua and the public will challenge until resolved.
  • Does not achieve an integrated approach to marine protection as the public has clearly asked for in a cooperative and coordinated manner.
  • Denies tangata whenua the opportunity to develop the use of Customary management tools that will be of benefit to all who use the area.
  • Does not address overfishing and will displace existing commercial fishing effort into a smaller area which is likely to create localised depletion – not what the locals fishing for food want to be confronted with.
  • The purpose of a marine reserve is for scientific purposes as per the Marine Reserves Act 1971. DoC has not demonstrated why a no-take reserve is required to achieve this purpose.
  • The reserve interferes unduly with and will adversely affect existing use of the area for recreational purposes and is in contravention of section 5 (6) d of the Marine Reserves Act 1971.
  • The reserve is contrary to the public interest in the area and therefore contravenes section 5 (6) e of the Marine Reserves Act 1971.

What can you do?

Pete Hodgson and David Benson-Pope are now the keys to final affirmation of this confiscation. If you would like to write to them they can be contacted by addressing the letter to them, c/o Parliament Buildings, Wellington. No stamp required. If you write a letter they are obliged to respond in writing.

You can also email them. Address for Pete Hodgson is phodgson@ministers.govt.nz .

David Benson-Pope's email is dbenson-pope@ministers.govt.nz .

option4 fully support the NZ Recreational Fishing Council in setting up a fighting fund to challenge the decision in conjunction with NZ Fishing News. Donations to the fund can be sent to Aotea Fighting Fund, c/o NZ Fishing News, PO Box 12-965, Penrose, Auckland. Cheques should be made out to the NZ Recreational Fishing Council.


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