Leaked document reveals government proposals to reform fishing industry
Proposals to dramatically increase marine protections in the ailing Hauraki Gulf and to ban trawling in all but “carefully selected” corridors were revealed in a leaked document.
The document also outlines proposals from Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, David Parker, to reform New Zealand’s commercial fishing industry, including progress on the deployment of cameras on commercial vessels.
The document, produced for the Labor Party’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee, outlines a series of Cabinet documents that “will support the government’s work on oceans and fisheries.” It was reportedly leaked to the Act Party and posted online.
A spokesperson for Parker said the minister would not comment on the contents of the leaked documents and would only make announcements after they are presented to Cabinet.
He declined to comment on the fact that the document was leaked.
One of the documents seeks agreement on the government’s response to the Sea Change Tai Timu Pai Pari Hauraki Gulf marine space plan.
The plan was developed over four years by a cross-sectoral group and unveiled in 2016 to help stem the flow of sediment and other pollutants into the Gulf, alleviate pressures on wildlife, reverse declining fish stocks and restore wildlife. health of critical ecosystems.
But the plan lay dormant for years, until the government announced plans to relaunch it in late 2018 with a ministerial advisory committee.
Progress has continued slowly and the Minister’s document calls for approval of the public release of the government’s strategy, titled Revitalize the Gulf – Government Action on the Sea Change Plan.
“The actions of the strategy take an ecosystem approach to restore the health of the Hauraki Gulf and respond to the many pressures on its ecosystems,” the document said.
Actions include increasing the area under marine protection in the Gulf from “6.6% to 17.6%” by establishing 18 protected areas using new “high protection area and protection area tools. of the seabed ”.
It is unclear what form of protection these areas would entail, from no-take marine reserves – which currently cover only 0.3% – to Maori customary protections such as rāhui and ahu moana, community protection plans for specific areas.
The original Sea Change plan does not mention a specific percentage to be protected, but the Hauraki Gulf Forum and a series of iwi, scientists and environmental NGOs have called for a minimum of 30% to be in some form of protection.
The original plan suggested 13 new marine protected areas in Mokohinau Islands, Little Barrier Island (Hauturu), Cape Colville, Alderman Islands (Ruamaahua), Mercury Islands (Ahuahu), Slipper Island (Whakahau), port of Whangateau, the Kawau Islands, Tiritiri Matangi Islands, Noises Islands, Rangitoto and Motutapu, the Firth of Thames and the Motukawao Group.
He recommended extending the existing marine reserves to Hahei (Te Whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve) and Leigh (Cape Rodney – Okakari Pt Marine Reserve).
The government’s strategy would include additional fishing restrictions, including “the exclusion of trawl fishing except in carefully selected” trawl corridors “and targeted measures to help restore locally depleted stocks,” according to the document.
These measures would be implemented as part of a “Hauraki Gulf Fishing Plan”.
The strategy would improve customary and recreational fishing experiences, and the connection people have with nature, also allow local communities to become more involved in the management of coastal areas near the coast, according to the newspaper.
He recommended that Cabinet accept the publication of the strategy and proposed actions as well as further engagement with mana whenua.
Another leaked document revealed the next steps in deploying on-board cameras to the inshore fishing fleet, following a Cabinet agreement in July 2020 to provide funding.
He said the minister intended to consult on the “appropriate level of industry recovery,” the amount recovered to at least offset the proposed additional funding of $ 10 million over four years.
The document called for the approval of a one-step business case and agreement for Fisheries NZ to engage with the market to procure the on-board camera solution and advance an implementation business case for the deployment.
Other documents underscored the “commitment of the new Department of Oceans and Fisheries to a more holistic and integrated approach to ocean management.”
“Activities on land and at sea, and their cumulative effects, negatively affect the marine environment; and climate change is warming the seas, with impacts on marine ecosystems expected to increase,” the document said.
The current approach to marine management was “fragmented” and struggled to respond to these pressures in a holistic and timely manner.
He recognized that progress in marine protection was slow compared to the goals of international treaties, and that growth and innovation were also hampered.
Other documents included proposals to modernize the fishery management system and a draft fishery amendment bill aimed at “tightening the commercial fishing rules for which fish must be landed and who must or must be. discarded at sea ”.
“This will encourage fishermen to minimize bycatch and catch the fish they like.”
The current rules have resulted in “disincentives for good fishing practices,” said a document, outlining proposals to strengthen fishing rules and policies regarding illegal discards of fish, improving the efficiency of on-board cameras and recovery. costs.
The documents also included proposed next steps to respond to the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor report on the state of New Zealand’s fisheries and changes to the Maori Fisheries Act of 2004, in line with recommendations from a review. from 2015.
In releasing the document, Act leader David Seymour said it was “a mixed take of initiatives”.
He said it appeared the minister had consulted Labor MPs before consulting the industry, and hoped that would not “throw the sector into chaos”.