FISHING COMMUNITY APPALLED BY PLAN TO INTRODUCE EXTENSIVE NO FISHING AREAS AROUND THE COROMANDEL
Written by John Grant on June 24, 2022
The fishing community is up in arms over a proposal by the Waikato Regional Council that would see commercial and recreational fishing banned from extensive area around the entire Coromandel Peninsula.
The draft proposal recently released by the Waikato Regional Council has several proposals and one of these is to “Prohibit Disturbance of the Seabed or Foreshore in Specifically Identified and Mapped Areas”. For the mapped areas you can refer to the below picture. This would significantly limit fishing activities including diving and effectively make these marked locations the equivalent of Marine Reserves.
The designation of areas for Marine Reserves has traditionally been the role of central Government and therefore subject to the rigors of the Parliamentary system. In August 2021 the same limitations banning fishing were implemented near Motiti Island in the Bay of Plenty. This restriction was put in place by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and subject to a challenge in the Environment Court, the result of which was that it supported the ruling, and in so doing, established the framework for Regional Councils to have the authority to impose bans. The ban was also supported by the then Minister of Environment Kiri Allan, who approved the Bay of Plenty Regional Coastal Environment Plan.
This has created a strong push back from the local fishing industry who were “absolutely outraged” at the decision and the outcome of the court process. Mount Maunganui Sports Fishing Club president, Dennis Gore at the time referred to the ban as “unbelievable” and said that the fishing community was disgusted.
Local Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said that hundreds of recreational fishers were not given the opportunity to put forward their views on the closure of these areas.
Local fishing clubs in Whitianga and Tairua are equally up in arms and see this as a battle that will need fighting with everything that they can throw at it. John Neighbours the longstanding President of the Mercury Bay Game Fishing Club said he was appalled that this was being proposed.
Likewise, Warren Maher President of the Tairua Pauanui Sport Fishing Club and Vice President Sport Fishing Council of New Zealand said he read the paper with complete surprise that the Regional Council could do this behind closed doors and with no input from parties impacted by the decisions of the Council. He said he was hugely disappointed in the proposal and would have no doubt there would be general strong opposition to this plan.
Warren Maher also said that these types of radical proposals have driven him to stand for the Waikato Regional Council in the coming local body elections. He feels that there is a need to provide greater public input into proposals and some balance to what he sees as radical views that are dominating recent decision at the council. He encourages people to make sure they are on the roll and vote at the next election. This includes the large number of absentee owners who are also entitled to enrol and vote in the local body elections at both District and Regional level.
You can download a copy of the paper here.
The Waikato Regional Council have asked for submissions and input from the public. Submissions close on 22 July 2022.