Submission on Revitalising the Gulf: Marine protection proposals
IntroductionSubmitted 28 October 2022: Read the NZCA's submission on the plans and proposals to revitalise the Hauraki Gulf.
The Legislative Basis for the New Zealand Conservation Authority submission
- The New Zealand Conservation Authority / Te Pou Atawhai Taiao o Aotearoa (Authority, NZCA) was established under the Conservation Act 1987 (Act), with members appointed by the Minister of It is an independent statutory body with a range of functions, but primarily acts as an independent conservation advisor to the Minister and the Director-General of Conservation.
- The Authority has a role as an objective advocate on matters of national significance and interest in the conservation arena and to provide high quality independent advice to the Department of Conservation (Department, DOC) on its strategic direction and
- The Authority has a range of powers and functions, under the Act, as well as under other conservation related legislation. Section 6C(2)(c) of the Act provides the Authority with the power to “advocate the interests of the Authority at any public forum or in any statutory planning process.”
- Following the logic of the above powers and functions, the Authority submits on the Department’s Marine protection proposals for the Hauraki Gulf.
- The NZCA’s submission is based on its analysis of:
- Sea Change Plan Tai Timu Tai Pari, 2017
- Revitalising the Gulf: Government action on the Sea Change Plan, 2021
- Revitalising the Gulf: Marine protection proposals, 2022
- The NZCA recognises the importance of addressing marine protection in the Hauraki Gulf given the many pressures and stressors that the region Measures to protect and secure the long-term well-being and productivity of the Hauraki Gulf, and to achieve restoration of the ecosystem servicers in the Gulf, have been a very long time in coming. It has taken years of work, consultation, and commitment by many people to get to this point, and Authority acknowledges the work that has gone into the proposals.
- In the view of NZCA the proposals should consider the interconnectedness of the Hauraki Gulf and the need for integrated protection at appropriate Currently, the proposals focus on each High Protection Area (HPA) separately, however, given the size and description of each HPA, there is limited benefit and value in identifying and developing biodiversity objectives for each independent site. There are both biodiversity and management objectives, and these need to be distinguished.
- The NZCA submits that the ecological and biodiversity values and objectives that are being sought (such as protecting sensitive and representative habitats, preventing extinctions, building more resilient coastal communities and ecosystems that are better able to withstand pressures and threats, and maintaining ecosystem services) need to be identified for the whole region.
- The NZCA submits that, once these objectives are in place for the Gulf in its entirety, conservation management objectives (involving customary interests, research needs, and habitat restoration steps/interventions, if locally appropriate) would need to be developed for each HPA to enable monitoring of progress and to inform where objectives for the Gulf as a whole require further attention/mechanisms to achieve Gulf-scale
- The NZCA supports the additional protection adjacent to current marine reserves Cape Rodney-Okakari Point and Whanganui-a-Hei to reduce the pressures at the boundaries, as well as increasing the areas protected and extending the nature and range of habitats receiving protection.
- The NZCA supports advancing the proposal for protection of Ōtata /Noises, which has been advanced by community members and supported with guidance from Tāmaki Paenga Hira/Auckland Museum.
- The Authority is deeply concerned by the negative impacts of fishing methods that contact the seafloor and damage benthic ecosystems such as bottom trawling, Danish seining, and dredging. The impacts of such methods are very clearly demonstrated by the terrible damage wrought by the dredging of the subtidal beds of mussels from the early 1900s to the 1960s that destroyed biogenic habitats and resulted in a major ecosystem change to the seafloor of the Hauraki The NZCA submits that stronger provisions to limit seafloor contact must be included in the protection plans for the Gulf.
An accountable protection system
- In the view of NZCA it is important that there are clear and measurable goals and timeframes built into the proposals in order to evaluate progress and have an accountable protection system.
- The NZCA is concerned that the inclusion of the Seafloor Protection Areas (SPAs) in the Hauraki Gulf marine protection legislation will undermine the work that has been done to ensure that New Zealand is reporting marine protection appropriately, and will set an unacceptable precedent in doing so.
- SPAs are fisheries management tools and they do not meet marine protection criteria, such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Marine Protection Area standards, or the Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECM). It is important that SPAs are not included in the way in which New Zealand reports its marine protection to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). The NZCA submits that SPAs should be removed from explicitly protection-focussed legislation.
- In terms of governance, the NZCA considers that it is important that the management of the Hauraki Gulf is considered in an integrated We recognise this is complex given the number of HPAs, and the aspirations of mana whenua, and diverse community interests.
Responsiveness to contemporary issues and developing research
- There are many stressors confronting marine ecosystems and the rate of change in environmental variables (e.g. marine heat waves, ocean acidification, increased frequency and intensity of storm events) mean that legislation will need to be responsive to current and emerging threats. The NZCA submits that there will need to be clear pathways identified in which additional areas can be proposed and assessed to add to the HPAs, without having to wait for additional legislation.
- To achieve effective management there needs to be resources to support research that addresses information gaps, and monitoring to enable evaluation of the effectiveness of the protection These streams of information and analysis need to be fed into the management framework so that, if necessary, protection mechanisms can be modified if needed to achieve the desired objectives and vision for the Gulf.