The Environment Court has supported the banning of fishing on Astrolabe Reef and two other Bay of Plenty fishing spots near Motiti Island which has given the Bay of Plenty Regional Council an opportunity to potentially remove all bulk harvesting methods from within their coastal marine area.
The Environment Court issued an interim decision on the appeal led by Motiti Rohe Moana Trust against the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Coastal Plan. The Court says they have the potential to significantly boost tourism, particularly recreational diving.
For too long the inshore resources has been degraded by sedimentation, rubbish and over-fishing to a point that has seen the local Bay of Plenty fishers including the commercial fishing fleet thin out to a handful of operators.
“We have had a hard time outside, it's hit and miss some days” says one local fisher. The intergenerational local fishers have changed gear as they become aware of the decline and damage to the resilience of the sea. Only the big operators continue to use big nets to sweep and mop up the last fish from our community fishing grounds.”
The recent decision from the environment court has created a pathway for the expression of community and environmental values. These could preserve the resource by imposing restrictions on activities which damage or destroy the marine environment and character.
The decision awaits the outcome of the Court of Appeal ruling on whether councils could use the Resource Management Act to control fishing - or whether control should continue to be left to the Ministry for Primary Industries using the Fisheries Act.
J. Smith's 59-page decision followed a nine-day hearing at Mount Maunganui last year at which the Regional Council defended its plan.
The larger bulk harvesters which operate out from Tauranga have no business fishing inside the 12 nautical mile line other than to further decimate what little fish stocks are left.
The opportunity for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council is to remove high extractive and destructive methods such as nets, pots, and dredges from the 12 mile where they decimated the once productive recreational fishing grounds of our grandparents.
Other Councils have done this already, such as the Marlborough Council, which removed the use of contact bottom activities, like dredging to preserve the habitats within in the Marlborough Sounds. MPI then followed suit and closed the Challenger Scallop fisheries.
This shows that MPI can do the right thing if they know how bad the management is. It is a slow recovery and recently this closure was extended and shows the need to act. Councils need to get off the fence and do their duty to preserve our coastal relationship with marine resources.
The Personal Assistant and advisor to Stuart Nash a Mr Addy Hill said in the 2018 court case about MPI management, “100 days of making up how they can pull the wool over the community eyes.”
"While fine scale information is not available for rock lobster and kina"
"Assessing stock management is a complex process, and starts with 80–100 full-day meetings each year of various fishery assessment working groups chaired by MPI fisheries scientists. These working groups review the latest catch estimates for all sectors and any new research results to assess the status of stocks. Not all stocks are assessed each year"
It is time that New Zealanders and the recreational community stood up and voice support for the removal of methods that take away from future generations, and write to their respective councils that they need to be proactive in supporting the restoration of our marine area.
"When one tugs on a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world"
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