Commercial Fishing Ban Pushed
Monday, February 29, 2016 at 3:24PM
Bill Barclay

Reihana Robinson and her Upper Coromandel Landcare Association members have followed up on the submissions made to the recent WRC Catchment Committee meeting. These sought to seek urgent action to be taken by Government through the WRC proceses to extend the proposed commercial Gulf fishing ban from the current Waiheke to Coromandel upper boundary to Great Barrier and down the East Coast to Whangamata and beyond if possible.

Commercial seining and lining throughout these areas have reduced the amateur take in all it various forms, and on the face of it, the need to preserve the East Coast areas for recreational and/or tourist access is probably a far greater priority than the need inside the true Gulf that is dominated by large amateur rigs outfitted with high-end gear, and who cannot possible claim to be affected in the same way as the true Mom & Pop fishers off the East Coast.

But Key, Guy, Smith and Barry have made it an election mantra in order to secure the significant vote represented by these people. Key discovered the significance of this vote when he failed to mollify a large group with whom he recently met at Whangamata. He seemed to suggest that the inner Gulf proposal may be able to be extended, but was far from reassuring on the issue. All it has done is stir up deep-seated resentment amongst the East Coast recreational fishers.

Key needs to get the geography clear in his mind before he mindlessly tries to pass off half-baked proposals amongst groups like this. sometimes, his minders and associates appear to let him down, and as for our local member - it is time he posted a bit more than sunsets on his Twitter account.

Reihana's strong argument is far more valid  in my books, but all these groups will have to understand that there is a 'trade-off' cost associated with pushing the seigners and liners further out into the open sea. We will eventually pay this cost through the super-market, but everyone will have forgotten the connection by then.

I believe that a great deal more thought is required in regard to the Recreational Fishing Zone proposals. At the moment, they are in the eyes of many simply incompatible with the Marine Protected Areas that are to be established under separate legislation. It would far better all round if these RFZs were moved beyond the MPAs into a intermediate zone - possibly a triangulating Waiheke, Great Barrier and Coromandel datum, and incorporating reasonable coastal enclosures. that avoid intersecting the proposed MPAs.

I believe there is a compromise that won't please everyone, but at least secure some satisfaction for the the majority who simply cannot accept that the fish are a resource held in common, and that entitlement is really an anathema.    

Anyway, here is Reihanna's release:

'"A Coromandel conservation group has called for an expansion of the government’s proposed Hauraki Gulf Recreational Fishing Park to include all inshore areas along the Firth of Thames, around Cape Colville, and down the peninsula’s eastern coastline.

The Upper Coromandel Landcare Association (UCLA) is seeking a ban on all commercial fishing activity, excluding mussel farming and crayfishing, within three nautical miles of shore.

UCLA spokesperson and Waikato Regional Council Coromandel Catchment representative Reihana Robinson put the proposal to last month’s zone committee meeting in Thames.  The proposal was accepted and passed to full council, which has taken it under consideration in formulating WRC’s formal submission to the government discussion document.

The fishing park was proposed earlier this year by the Ministry for the Environment, which seeks to limit some forms of commercial fishing in both the Hauraki Gulf and the Marlborough Sounds.  In the Hauraki Gulf, the proposal would create a customary and recreational-only zone in the inner Firth of Thames south of a line roughly from Waiheke Island to Coromandel Town.

However, the proposal would still allow seining activity north of that line and would continue to permit both seining and trawling in the bulk of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, including around Great Barrier and down the eastern Coromandel seaboard.

UCLA spokesperson Robinson said both WRC and Thames-Coromandel District Council need to take strong positions with government to protect fragile inshore marine environments and the district’s tourism-dependent economy. 

“While a customary and recreational fishing-only zone in the southern and western Firth sounds attractive at first blush, it does little to address the long-term sustainability of our already depleted local fisheries and a degraded marine environment throughout the bulk of the Hauraki Gulf.”

“As proposed, the fishing park would do almost nothing to limit the destructive and wasteful trawling activity that is concentrated in the northern and outer Hauraki Gulf, through the Colville Channel, around Great Barrier, and down the east coast”, Robinson said. “Significant extensions to protected-area lines of demarcation, specifically along our coastline, are urgently needed.”

According to UCLA, consistent reports from experienced recreational fishers and long-time northern Coromandel residents increasingly point to depletion of local fish stocks, with a potential for eventual fishery collapse.  Concern about the threatened fishery spurred a petition back in 2007 with over 1,000 signatories, and presented to the former Ministry of Fisheries, seeking a total ban on trawling along the entire Coromandel coastline.

The deadline for individual submissions to the government’s consultation document on the proposed Hauraki Gulf recreational fishing park is 5:00pm March 11.  The full proposal and submission guidelines can be found on the Ministry for the Environment web site ( section on the Marine Protected Areas Act."



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