Roger Grace Submission to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial plan

Option One: Type 1 MPA Whangateau Harbour (Waikokopu Creek 185.3ha and Horseshoe Island 69.1ha)

RG1

Whangateau HarbourCare Group has since 2009 had plans for a Scientific Reserve in the southern arm of the harbour (Waikokopu Creek), extending the existing Omaha Taniko Wetlands Scientific Reserve (kahikatea forest) down to the low tide mark.  The area is a rich mosaic of saltmarsh, mangroves, seagrass, firm sand flats and rare coralline turf “rhodolith” balls.  Concept of Scientific Reserve rather than Marine Reserve is to allow future manipulation of small mangroves if they spread to compromise the open sand flats valuable to wading birds in the area.

No-fishing zone around Horseshoe Island in the northern part of the harbour, including a cockle bed seldom used by shellfish gatherers.  Because of the abundance of cockles in the harbour the water is often amazingly clear making the area attractive as a snorkeling site amongst the mangroves.  This opportunity is unavailable elsewhere on the mainland areas of the Park and has great educational potential.  A no-fishing zone (marine reserve or rahui tapu) would allow buildup of flounder, fascinating for kids to see.  The area is already an important nursery for juvenile fish.  Protecting a cockle bed will serve as a control for understanding impacts on other cockle beds usually heavily fished.  Pipi and cockles are currently protected following a serious die-off in 2009 when 80% of larger cockles died due to a bacterial infection.  Closure was due to be lifted in March 2016 but has now been reinstated indefinitely.

More information in the Whangateau HarbourCare Group’s 10-point Plan (WHCG 2009), which also suggests a Community Fisheries Plan or a Mataitai for the remainder of the harbour (see Type 2 MPAs), and at www.whangateauharbour.org

Option Two: Type 2 MPA Whangateau Harbour 469.2 ha

RG2

Apart from the proposed no-fishing zone around Horseshoe Island, the remainder of the northern part of the Harbour should be subject to a Community Fisheries Plan or a Mataitai in collaboration with Ngāti Manuhiri.  Shellfish resources will come under severe pressure once the current harvesting ban is lifted in March 2016, partly because most other cockle beds in the Auckland Region are either seriously depleted, polluted, or closed to harvest.   Whangateau has for many years held the best cockle resource in the Auckland Region.  There are other fisheries issues in the Harbour which should be more closely controlled than under the normal blanket fisheries controls applicable everywhere.

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