'Sea Change' Draws Substantive Comment!
Sunday, January 15, 2017 at 12:01PM
Bill Barclay

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.




Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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