Bottom-trawling ban for most of Hauraki Gulf

Conservation Oceans and Fisheries

The Labour Government will ban bottom fishing from the vast bulk of the Hauraki Gulf as part of its plan to better protect the 1.2-million-hectare marine park for future generations, with public consultation opening tomorrow.

Options announced today show bottom-trawling and Danish seining could be banned from up to 89 per cent of the marine park.

“Aucklanders and others have called for greater protection for their beloved big blue backyard, the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana. We have listened and we have acted,” Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rachel Brooking said.

“The Gulf is a taonga with deep rooted historical importance for tangata whenua, a vital part of our society and of our tourism, transport and seafood sectors, with an economic value of $100 billion. But it’s in trouble, and we have to strike the right balance between being able to use it, and making sure it’s healthy and available for our grandchildren.

“At the moment, bottom-trawling and Danish seining are banned in just over a quarter of the Gulf’s waters. Today, I am announcing options that would see this ban go from current protection levels, of just over a quarter, to up to nine-tenths.”

The trawling ban was foreshadowed earlier this month when Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced plans to create 19 new marine protection areas in the Gulf.

“At the same time, I released the new Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan – the country’s first area-specific, ecologically based fisheries plan,” Rachel Brooking said.

“The plan overturns the presumption that bottom-trawling and Danish seining can be used everywhere except in specified areas.

“Instead, they will be banned everywhere except in very specific and limited places, called trawl corridors, or Bottom Fishing Access Zones. Today I’m announcing the options for those corridors and inviting people to have their say from tomorrow on which option they support,” Rachel Brooking said.

The opening of public consultation on the trawl corridors comes as the Government prepares to debate the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana Marine Protection Bill in Parliament today for the first time.

“This Bill triples the area in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park under total protection, from just over 6 per cent to about 18 per cent,” Conservation Minister Willow-Jean Prime said.

“It extends existing marine reserves at Goat Island and Cathedral Cove and creates a new marine protection tool (high protection areas) that recognise kaitiakitanga and cultural practices of tangata whenua.

Rachel Brooking said banning bottom-trawling and Danish seining from the entire Gulf was considered, but there were concerns that boats would simply move to areas outside the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, especially Northland and the Bay of Plenty, putting extra pressure on the fisheries in those areas.

“The Revitalising the Gulf strategy, which looked at the recommendations of the Sea Change report, said it was better to base decisions on where trawling should be allowed on scientific evidence, and protect the benthic areas of the highest ecological significance while allowing trawling in ‘corridors’ where the harm will be limited,” Rachel Brooking said.

The wide-ranging restriction on bottom-trawling is just one of the actions the Government is taking to protect the Hauraki Gulf.

“Sedimentation, nutrient run-off and climate change all threaten the health of the Gulf,” Rachel Brooking said.

“The resource management reforms we passed this month, along with new rules requiring farmers to manage their land better, give us the tools to help stop soils and fertilisers washing into the sea.

The latest improved safeguards for the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana follow extensive consultation with the people who use the Gulf or live close to it, with more than 10,000 submissions being made on the Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan, and more than 7,500 on proposals to increase marine protection.

“I urge everyone who cares about the future of this hugely important area to make submissions on the trawl corridor proposals,” Rachel Brooking said.

Explanatory notes:

Currently, 27 per cent of the Gulf is closed to bottom trawling and Danish seining.

Fisheries NZ commissioned the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) to use a spatial planning tool called zonation and GIS (geographic information system) mapping to assess the waters of the Gulf and identify options for trawl corridors, based on areas with high fishing value, that at the same time minimised impacts on areas of high benthic biodiversity.

Submissions on the trawl corridor proposals open tomorrow and close on 6 November.  Options being consulted on are:

Option 1:


Danish seine fishing banned from 74.1 per cent and trawl fishing banned from 77.1 per cent of the Gulf shallower than 200m, with these fishing methods limited to 6 defined zones.


Option 2:


Trawl and Danish seine fishing banned from 79.4 per cent and trawl fishing banned from 82.4 per cent of the Gulf shallower than 200m, and limit these fishing methods to 5 defined zones.


Option 3:


Trawl and Danish seine fishing banned from 86.6 per cent and trawl fishing banned from 88.5 per cent of the Gulf shallower than 200m, and limit these fishing methods to 4 defined zones.


Option 4:


Danish seine fishing banned from 87.3 per cent and trawl fishing banned from 89 per cent of the Gulf shallower than 200m, and limit these fishing methods to 4 defined zones.


The future of bottom-fishing methods in the 3.4 per cent of the Gulf that is deeper than 200 metres will be assessed in a different process.

The Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana Marine Protection Bill:

  • Extends the country’s first marine reserve, Cape Rodney – Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island) and Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve, on the Coromandel Peninsula.
  • Creates 12 new high protection areas to protect and restore marine ecosystems, while allowing for customary practices of tangata whenua.
  • Includes five new seafloor protection areas to preserve sensitive seafloor habitats by prohibiting bottom-contact fishing methods and other activities which harm the seafloor.