Te Muri: Why Do We Need No-Take Zones

A marine reserve for Te Muri?

A marine reserve for Te Muri?

Our Regional Parks are places where people expect to have an enjoyable recreational experience and to engage with the wonders of the natural world. A lot of effort is put in to restore forest and wetland habitats, and to encourage birds and other wildlife back into our Regional Parks. Unfortunately in the sea fishing is responsible for serious loss of abundance and diversity of life, and some would say fishing is an inappropriate activity adjacent to our Regional Parks. A Marine Reserve has been suggested for the sea adjacent to the new Te Muri Regional Park. I want to put this idea into a national and regional context.

WHY DO WE NEED NO-TAKE ZONES ?

WHY DO WE NEED NO-TAKE ZONES ?

No-take zones or Marine Reserves are areas where we agree to leave them in as natural a state as possible. We don’t go fishing and we don’t take shellfish. They are like National Parks or sanctuaries in the sea where all life is safe from humans.

30% of our land is protected for its natural values

30% of our land is protected for its natural values

Only 9% of our territorial seas & less than 1% of coastal waters are similarly protected

Only 9% of our territorial seas & less than 1% of coastal waters are similarly protected

About 30% of our land area is protected for its natural values and biodiversity, as havens for wildlife and forests, where people can enjoy NZ in its natural state. In the sea we have about 9% of our Territorial Seas similarly protected, but only about 1% is accessible close to the mainland.

Many environmental indicators are in serious decline

Many environmental indicators are in serious decline

The last two State of our Gulf reports have painted a sorry picture of our local marine environment. Many environmental indicators are in serious decline, and following the 2011 Hauraki Gulf Forum seminar it was decided that something needed to be done to fix the Gulf.

Marine Spatial Plan To arrest environmental degradation and to improve the environment of the Gulf

Marine Spatial Plan To arrest environmental degradation and to improve the environment of the Gulf

A collaborative process was launched to produce a Marine Spatial Plan to address the issues, to arrest environmental degradation and to improve the environment of the Gulf. The Plan has proved to be a difficult task and is now running a year behind schedule.

To boost overall abundance we need to raise the fisheries target biomass as is happening with snapper Long slow process to change fisheries management

To boost overall abundance we need to raise the fisheries target biomass as is happening with snapper
Long slow process to change fisheries management

With fish life so depleted it is desirable to boost overall abundance in the Gulf. We need to leave more fish in the sea. For snapper, MPI is trying to raise the recent target of 23% of the pre-fished biomass to 40%. This is a long slow process and may take 100 years which is not a useful time frame. Marine Reserves are a quicker way to boost abundance in local areas.

We have made good progress with biodiversity recovery on the land, eg. Regional Parks and Tiritiri

We have made good progress with biodiversity recovery on the land, eg. Regional Parks and Tiritiri

We have made good progress with biodiversity recovery on land, with great success at Tiritiri, Tawharanui, Waitakeres and Shakespeare……

We are lagging behind in the sea with only 6 marine reserves covering 0.3% of the Gulf

We are lagging behind in the sea with only 6 marine reserves covering 0.3% of the Gulf

…….but we are lagging behind in the sea with six marine reserves covering only 0.3% of the Gulf, as shown by the red areas on the map. The green areas give us an idea of the scale of marine protection we should be aiming at to bring the proportion up to 10%.

We know from Goat Island and Tawharanui that marine reserves work! They provide a haven for marine life and are popular with people

We know from Goat Island and Tawharanui that marine reserves work!
They provide a haven for marine life and are popular with people

We know from Goat Island and Tawharanui that marine reserves work! They provide a haven for marine life and are popular with people.

Numbers of legal-sized red crayfishinside and outside the no-take zone

Numbers of legal-sized red crayfish inside and outside the no-take zone

Crayfish were already heavily depleted by the 1970’s. After protection at Tawharanui in 1981, crayfish outside the protected area declined to virtually zero and have stayed that way. Inside the protected area they increased reaching a peak of 1000 legal-sized crays per hectare of reef in 2010.

Te Muri 11

Marine Reserves are not just about snapper and crayfish recovery. More important is habitat recovery to something closer to natural. The green and purple are kelp forest in this habitat map of Tawharanui. Pale blue areas outside the reserve are kina barrens – more on that in a moment.

Kelp forest has recovered inside no-take zone.

Kelp forest has recovered inside no-take zone.

Kelp forest has recovered inside the Tawharanui no-take zone. We will look closer at the green rectangle inside the marine reserve.

Comet Rocks (no fishing), no urchin barrens

Comet Rocks (no fishing), no urchin barrens

This aerial photo shows the intertidal reef of Comet Rocks as pale grey, with the rocky reefs in shallow water showing dark, with lighter sand surrounding the reef. The shallow reef is uniformly dark because it is covered in kelp forest.

Rich kelp forest

Rich kelp forest

Dense kelp forest now thrives on the reef at Comet Rocks, where prior to protection kina barrens were present with low biodiversity and no crayfish. The kelp forest now supports abundant fish life, rich invertebrates and many crayfish.

Urchin barrens on reefs outside protected area

Urchin barrens on reefs outside protected area

Outside the protected area the habitat map shows a pale blue zone sandwiched between the purple and the green. This is the kina barren where there are not enough snapper and crayfish to keep the kina in check. More detail in the green rectangle is shown in the next slide.

Pukenihinihi Reef (fished area), urchin barrens extensive

Pukenihinihi Reef (fished area), urchin barrens extensive

The aerial photo shows a fringe of dark kelp around the intertidal rocks and some kelp close to the sand, but most of the shallow reef area is pale because it has no kelp. Many shallow reefs in Northland and the Hauraki Gulf show pale in aerial photos because they have lost their kelp through kina grazing.

Urchin barrens, no kelp

Urchin barrens, no kelp

Most of the reefs outside the reserve have extensive kina barrens. This gross degradation of our shallow rocky reefs is caused by too much fishing. There are not enough snapper and crayfish left to keep the kina numbers down to a natural level and the ecology of our reefs is seriously impacted.

The principles for a system of marine reserves Representation Replication Network design Self-sustaining total area Permanent

The principles for a system of marine reserves: Representation, Replication, Network design,
Self-sustaining total area, Permanent

We should be thinking of coordinated networks of marine reserves rather than individual reserves on an ad hoc basis.  There are now established guidelines for setting up regional networks.  The principles are:

REPRESENTATION.  All marine habitats in the HGMP should be represented in the network.

REPLICATION.  There should be more than one example of each habitat represented in the network to safeguard against accidental compromise and loss of a habitat type.

NETWORK DESIGN.  The network should be designed with connectivity in mind, so that marine life has a chance to use the protected areas as “stepping stones” from one sanctuary to the next.

SELF-SUSTAINING TOTAL AREA.  There should be enough MPAs and of sufficient size for the network to be self-sustaining and viable.  A loose goal of 10% of the area of the HGMP is the target.

PERMANENT.  Marine Reserves should be permanent.  They increase in biodiversity value as time progresses.

Draft Type 1 MPAs network for Hauraki Gulf, as presented to the Marine Spatial Plan Stake- Holder Working Group for discussion, February 2015

Draft Type 1 MPAs network for Hauraki Gulf, as presented to the Marine Spatial Plan Stake- Holder Working Group for discussion, February 2015

Based on the 5 main principles above, I prepared a DRAFT network of marine reserves for the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park for discussion within the Stakeholder Working Group of the Marine Spatial Planning process. This document should be available on the SeaChange website, or at http://www.whangateauharbour.org

Draft Te Muri Type 1 MPA (marine reserve)

Draft Te Muri Type 1 MPA (marine reserve)

The Draft proposal for Te Muri is included in the DRAFT network for the Hauraki Gulf. It is adjacent to three Regional Parks, and includes two beaches and two estuaries, sheltered rocky shores and an offshore reef, and a substantial buffer of fine sand offshore.
I believe our children have a right to see some marine areas in all their natural glory, not just areas that have been severely compromised by fishing.

Roger Grace and Cimino Cole

Comments

  1. marty baker says:

    Roger just for a change how about tackling the greedy commercial corporate interests that over exploited the resource to begin with.
    How about taking on MPI who consistently claim the QMS is the greatest system on the planet and protect corporates to make lousy profits.
    Just for a change join the masses of rec fishing people and ordinary kiwis who might support your ideas if you chose to widen the attack to those who really do the most damage.

    You might get a pleasant surprise.

  2. Antonio Guzzo says:

    Te Muri Regional Park is fine as it’s low impact on residents. But don’t impact Wenderholm, Mahurangi or Waiwera residents by taking away their main recreational fishing grounds. Many residents have lived here for multiple generations and taking away their recreational fishing rights is not a fair thing to do. The biggest problem we face is bottom trawling in the hauraki gulf, each haul contains 20% of juvenile fish, which 100% are killed, due to the destructive nature of this method. It also destroys our seabed and prevents a recovery from the industrial scale dredging and bottom trawling performed in the gulf during the 60’s 70’s and 80’s. I’m in favor of more marine reserves, don’t get me wrong, but it’s only a drop in the ocean compared with the scale of destruction that still currently exists. If bottom trawling and industrial scale over fishing didn’t exist the whole country would be like Goat Island Marine Reserve, and we wouldn’t even be discussing the need for marine reserves. Why should residents lose their rights to try balance out unwise practices of the past, especially when the law still allows the poor practices of the past continue today? This is what I cannot get my head around. It’s embarrassing, that after all these years, our government still shows the same intellectual level of a two year old. It’s like we never grow up.

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