Government helps fund efforts to restore shellfish beds of Hauraki Gulf

The Government is taking action to improve the health of the Hauraki Gulf by supporting the restoration of shellfish reefs and beds announced Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage at a meeting of the Hauraki Gulf Forum in Auckland on Tuesday evening.

”Shellfish beds and reefs are vital to the healthy ecological functioning of the Hauraki Gulf. They filter sediments and contaminants from seawater, provide habitat for fish nurseries, stabilise the seabed, and enhance biodiversity – it’s important we do all we can to restore them” said Eugenie Sage.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Fisheries New Zealand (FNZ) are partnering with community group Revive our Gulf and international environmental organisation, The Nature Conservancy, to improve the health of the Hauraki Gulf by restoring lost shellfish reefs and beds with $400,000 of support for the restoration ($100,000 each from DOC and FNZ and $200,000 from The Nature Conservancy).  

“The Hauraki Gulf was once home to abundant green-lipped mussels, horse mussels, cockles, pipi, tuatua and other native shellfish that formed expansive reefs and beds. Most of these beds have now been lost from a combination of over-fishing and environmental degradation of land around the Gulf. This funding will help turn that around,” said Eugenie Sage.

“The Government is committed towards improving the health of the Hauraki Gulf and working with others to achieve it. This is why we are supporting the work that Revive our Gulf and The Nature Conservancy are undertaking to restore shellfish reefs in the Hauraki Gulf,” said Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash.

“Revive our Gulf, a group of scientists, mussel farmers, donors and community members, has placed 150 tonnes of live green-lipped mussels at a number of sites near Rotoroa Island and in Mahurangi Harbour to trial the restoration of mussel reefs in the Hauraki Gulf. 

“This group has done a fantastic job, and I’d particularly like to thank the mussel farmers who have donated the mussels required for this project as well as their time and expertise,” Stuart Nash said.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says shellfish are a vital component of the food basket of Hauraki Gulf communities as well as an important element of cultural wellbeing.

“This initiative aligns with the Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari Plan which calls for active restoration of shellfish beds and mussel reefs as a key component of reversing the environmental decline of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. We look forward towards everyone coming together around this shared goal.”

The Nature Conservancy is bringing expertise from its well-established shellfish restoration projects in Australia and the United States.

“They’re using this experience to support the development of a work program to trial new methods to support the re-establishment of shellfish beds and co-ordinate restoration initiatives in the Hauraki Gulf,” said Eugenie Sage.