Speech at announcement of increased protection for the Hauraki Gulf

Oceans and Fisheries

Tēnā koutou katoa – thank you all for joining us in this beautiful venue today.

It is my very great pleasure to be here, with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Conservation, on this very special day.

When I became the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries earlier this year, I said I wanted to do two things – protect the oceans and protect our fisheries as a source of jobs and food.

They might sound like contradictory ideas, but what we have in front of us today shows they are not.

The Prime Minister and Conservation Minister Willow-Jean Prime have already talked about the importance and significance of the Revitalising the Gulf process.

I join them in acknowledging the work of everyone involved - tangata whenua, the Hauraki Gulf Forum, the Sea Change groups, the seafood industry, environmental groups, community groups and the public.

It is amazing what we can do when we work together.

As we’ve heard today, the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana is special for a lot of cultural, scientific, environmental and recreational reasons.

It’s right up there as one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. It has a special place it has in the hearts of Aucklanders – and is important for all New Zealand.

The need to protect it for future generations is beyond question.

The Gulf is also an important source of food – from customary fishing by tangata whenua, to the thousands of people who like to get out there at the weekend and catch a fish or collect some shellfish to feed the family.

It is also a significant part of New Zealand’s seafood industry.

Fish caught in the Gulf are sold in Auckland’s restaurants, fish markets and fish and chip shops, and are exported as part of our $2 billion-a-year international seafood industry.

All this means food and jobs for Aucklanders. Nationally, more than 12,000 people work in the seafood industry, and more than 2000 of them live in Auckland and Northland.

Navigating the somewhat choppy waters between a thriving commercial fishing industry and protecting our oceans is tricky, but not impossible.

But it means we have to think a little differently.

Recently, I approved the Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan.

Historically, we’ve treated each fishery as separate, but of course they’re not.

Snapper, kahuwai, crayfish and many other species live in the Gulf together, and they’re all affected by local conditions, by the things we do, and by changing environmental factors like climate change.

The Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan is the first fisheries plan that takes an ecosystems-approach to all that, and is the first one tailored for a specific area.

No plan is going to please everyone, but I have to say that I am greatly encouraged by the level of agreement that has been achieved, and many of the people who have been involved in it are here today.

As the Prime Minister noted, a key part of the plan is to restrict bottom contact fishing methods to carefully selected access zones to support the recovery of benthic habitat.

It will strengthen opportunities for iwi and community involvement in managing local areas that are close to shore through local management pilot projects – called “Ahu Moana” projects - and a new Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan Advisory Group.

There are also other key actions in the plan, such as proposals to better manage the scallop fishery and restore healthy kelp forests. 

There is no doubt that climate change is already affecting our oceans.

Last month was the hottest ever recorded – it hasn’t been this warm for 120,000 years.

This morning, scientists are sounding the alarm about a cascade of changes in Antarctica, affecting its ocean, glaciers, ice shelves, weather and biodiversity.

Alongside cutting greenhouse gas emissions to limit climate change, the best protection we can give the Hauraki Gulf against ocean acidification, marine warming and a host of other impacts, is to make sure it is in as healthy a state as possible.

That’s down to all of us, and I am confident that with these two announcements today – the Hauraki Gulf /Tīpaka Moana Marine Protection Bill, and the Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan – we are well on the way to doing just that.

Thank you for being here today. Nōreira tēnā koutou katoa.