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Sunday
Jan152017

'Sea Change' Draws Substantive Comment!

One keen-eyed reader has pointed out certain deficiencies in my original post on the subject of the  Sea Change document, in which I took particular exception and dammed the efforts of  our so-called representatives on the committee that framed the recommendations.

He points out that the iwi representatives have by one means or another managed to secure provisions that inevitably will result in them securing  majority control of the board, or whatever instrumentality that will eventually govern what happens in the Gulf (as defined around to Whangamata), and the areas surrounding the islands.

I have already alluded to, and explained the piece of sophistry that emerged from the committee, the adoption of whose recommendations is imminent.

But my correspondent, whose knowledge of the implications is deeper than most, points out that there are two aspects to the whole issue that have now been highlighted by the withdrawal of Change 1 of the Waikato River Healthy Rivers Plan Change. That withdrawal – inspired by the Hauraki Collective, has caused major behind-the-scenes ructions with the Tainui and associated Kingitanga. Historic enmities have been restored, and we will all be able to see the effects of this as settlements are delayed over disputed boundaries.

But the ‘Sea-Change’ document covers far more than fishing and administration of the Gulf environment – it is indeed a ‘package-deal’ that delivers control the entire catchment – the definition of which has now been called into question by the withdrawal of Change 1.  

The first issue of concern regarding the catchment otherwise is the manner in which the the Sea Change document fudges the manner in which the governing body is to deal with sediment and nutrient levels. It indicates that control of these in the Waipa/Piako and Coromandel catchments would be introduced through 'Plan Change 2' (Plan Change 1 being the Healthy Rivers Waikato Plan Change), but these issues are not determinitive  yet. What the document says is that:

"...that there should be “targeted research” (undertaken within a year by WRC) to better understand the effects of nutrient levels in the firth of Thames to determine its “assimilative capacity” as a basis for establishing catchment load limits as part of Plan Change 2 (see p.146);

This clearly reflects the Federated Farmers position on delaying any form of controls, and I would suggest that it is 'a pound to a packet of peanuts' that this represents the dab hand of our well known Fed Dirk Sieling – in fact, as one cynic as observed, he could well have ceded control over fishing to secure this ‘weak-kneed’ response.

As my informant states:

“It also says that this targeted research should: assess what actual monitoring and research is necessary; identify the sources of nutrient inputs; develop and utilize a model integrating catchment water quality with nutrient loading in the Firth to set definitive load limits by 2020; so that by 2021-22(or 5 to 6 years from the release of the report) an integrated catchment economic model can be used to introduce Plan Change 2.”

So Plan Change 2 is at least five, probably 6 years away from being notified as the basic research needed to justify its introduction is deficient and has yet to be undertaken.

However, they also say that although the impacts of nutrient loading is not fully understood, it would “'be prudent' to ensure that there are no further increases in that loading until that research period is complete" (see p.147).

The Report also indicate that this would be best achieved by:

"Encouraging the adoption of the minimum standards for dairy farms by DairyNZ elsewhere in the Waikato and through limiting 'land use intensification,'”

 about which they are not specific but presumably could mean an immediate halt to dairy conversions for example and a cap on current stock levels for all types of farms.

Talk about 'putting the foxes in charge of the hen-house' – DairyNZ headed by by the well- known industrial dairy farmer from Matamata – John Luxton OONZ will ensure that nothing too onerous is introduced to upset its farmer constituency.

My informant points out that sediment control is handled differently in that a Catchment Management Plan for Waihou/Piako  would be developed presumably through the new Treaty settlement Catchment Committees with initial implementation by 2019 (the plan is vague on what that means although:

“A standard set of good management practice guidelines would be developed and adopted with monitoring and reporting by different farming sectors; and by 2022 reach agreement to set load limits."

Presumably these could be picked up in Plan Change 2, – but this is not precisely stated except by saying:

“If substantive progress in achieving good management practice has not occurred after 4 years (ie by 2020) Councils should review the adequacy and application of the current regulatory framework and amend if required to ensure universal adoption”.

So Plan Change 2 is 5-6 years away from happening although the background work to it might begin soon and that may not include sediment control. And with regard to sediment control, it looks vague and what will actually happen will probably depend on how the Treaty settlement catchment committees work.

A highly unsatisfactory solution, but quite in keeping with our current Government’s pandering to the dairy industry

On the other hand, the iwi issues are quite another matter and if they are not put 'out there' in the community and dealt with, then there is every chance that they will be factored in to decision making by all the organisations involved and that could become very hard to unwind.

Iwi have clearly used the need to get unified agreement through the 'collaborative stakeholders' approach to get power for themselves rather than necessarily for the environment. These are namely:

1) Cathedral Cove Marine reserve will be expanded and a network of other such marine reserves will be set up around the Peninsula, All fishing in these areas will be banned for all aprt from iwi who will be allowed to take a 'cultural harvest'.

2) An Ahu-Moana zone will be established right around the Coromandel Peninsula coastline from Thames around to Waihi and all offshore islands extending 1km out to sea. This zone to be managed by a membership of 50% Iwi and 50% community representatives, with no word on how community representatives would be appointed.

As I pointed out previously, this could easily lead to that committee being taken over by Iwi with simply a couple of sympathetic community and Government represenatives being appointed through a process over which there could be no strategic control.

That committee would have the power to prohibit recreational and commercial fishing in this zone wholly or partially over any area and over any or all fish species, all on the basis of 'cultural values' (ie no need for scientific evidence). 

So the upshot will be that Iwi will have secured their own fishing supply 'on tap' from marine reserves while being able to control everyone else's fishing right across the entire Coromandel Peninsula.

To recap: they appear to have entered the Sea Change discussion not to do what is necessarily best for the environment, but to secure power over the environment, and over the fishing activites of non-Maori.

I will quite willingly accept the usual 'racist brickbats' for exposing this state of affairs, but all residents of the Peninsula need to familiarise themselves with the provisions that will determine their freedoms, and for that matter, the commercial realities of having so much power residing within one group.

People need to know what is at stake, and have a say about it. There are people behind the scenes trying very hard to introduce the Sea Change recommendations as a 'package deal' and they are making headway. Much of the Sea-Change deal has been introduced over the Christmas period while most people have their minds on other things.

My understanding is that as a result of a motion moved by our representative on the WRC – Dal Minogue, that the proposal has now been referred to our Council for comment and that is will be tabled at the 24 January meeting, following a public excluded workshop to familiarise members with the proposals. Trust that others will reject John Tredidga stated position that the deal is 'done and dusted' and "not open for debate." 

I would hope that there are ratepayers who are sufficiently concerned to attend this meeting in order to see just which way our representatives are leaning on the matter.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

Hi Bill, thank you for bringing our attention to the 'Sea Change Plan'. It makes for very alarming reading. You mention in your article that:

"There are people behind the scenes trying very hard to introduce the Sea Change recommendations as a 'package deal' and they are making headway. Much of the Sea-Change deal has been introduced over the Christmas period while most people have their minds on other things."

Can you please tell what is going on behind the scenes, and who is involved?
Much obliged.
Sue

February 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSue

Yes Sue - the lack of comment on the content of this post is quite surprising - several hundred have read it!

The primary responsibility lies with the Hauraki Gulf Forum who appointed a group to develop the new Sea-Change governance structure. This was chaired by Forum Chair John Tregidga who endeavoured to get the recommendations through the WRC and back to the Forum without reference to the three effected councils. He was over-ruled. The 'group that included our own Allison Henry, Dirk Sieling and Peter French.

All signed their names to the recommendation, along with all the other members.

Here is the URl that takes you to the HGF website and names the other members of the Forum.
There has being almost unbecoming haste to get these recommendations before the Forum on 20 February at which time they will inevitably be adopted, and submitted to the Minister who will most probably endorse same without further ado. This will lead to the strange 50;50 arrangements -iwi:other. Others will most likely include Government appointees who will include other tangata whenua. No public consultation of the recommendations is required.

Auckland get one position, and the combined councils and WRC get one between them. The balance will inevitably favour iwi who under the proposed arrangements will have substantial advantages accorded them in regard to access to aquaculture and fishing reserves.

As most readers will know, I have little time for either recreational or commercial fishers - they are all equally guilty in my books of pillaging existing stocks, and the DPI is guilty in y opinion of failing to live up to to its clear responsibilities in regard to monitoring these activities and stocks. On the other hand, I despise efforts that are under way clearly aimed at favouring one section of the community over another. This will cause deep resentment, both as regards the outcome and the manner in which it has been achieved.

I hope that our new Mayor is ready to take the necessary steps to defend the rights of everyone living in this District against these inequitable proposals. It has been suggested that the entire Council accompany her in order to make their position quite clear to the meeting of the Forum in Auckland on 20 February.

It is time for our elected officials to stand and be counted - not hide away behind some nebulous resolution.

February 4, 2017 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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