Pressure on the Hauraki Gulf Continues

Recently I attended the book launch of The Story of the Hauraki Gulf by Raewyn Peart. This 368-page book has been a labour of love and passion for Raewyn over many years. Over seven in-depth chapters that are stunningly illustrated the book takes you on a journey from the early Polynesians who arrived in the 13th Century through to the present day.

What a magnificent sight the Gulf must have been when those first Polynesians arrived; shore line covered with dense forest and the crystal clear ocean waters teeming with fish. Ironically Raewyn’s last chapter is titled: <<<New Beginning: Restoring the Land and the Sea>>>! Having ‘played’ in the Gulf I am very aware of how it has been hammered, even in my short lifetime. Humans have exploited the Gulf over many years, especially since the technological revolution since the end of WWII. The forests have gone as have the crystal clear waters and the teeming marine life. Fish are still catchable in the Gulf with the average ‘high tech’ fisherman bringing home his quota on a good day.

In the past week it has been brought to my attention that the pressure on the Gulf’s marine biosphere is still continuing, virtually unabated, even though councils and government are more than ever before aware of the effects the human population is having on the Gulf and the rest of the marine life around New Zealand.

The very successful Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve, established 20 years ago on Auckland’s North Shore, is under threat of extensive sedimentation run off from a proposed housing development for over 1000 houses. This development was turned down by council. The developer is taking their case to Environment Court in an attempt to overturn the council’s decision. So even when a council makes the correct decision for preserving the already stressed environment, the developers do not see the council and the local population’s point of view!

In Tauranga the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have a cunning plan: a huge fishing trawler is to haul up a heap of fish – tag and release them! Then after a set time, go fishing again and see how many tagged fish they catch and by studying how well the fish have grown etc they hope to increase the Total Allowable Catch (TAC). The local recreational fishers are staggered that the TAC could be increased.

I believe that the track record for maintaining sustainable fisheries by large commercial fishing companies is not very impressive. Their influence on government is impressive when it comes to TAC numbers and the percentage of the original biomass of a fishery that they can fish down too.

Like housing developers, if there is a profit to be made let’s go for it, NOW!

On behalf of the dive industry we wish to pass on our condolences to Wendy Helms & Russ Cochrane and their children, Shanna, Josh and Ryan for the tragic loss of their son and brother Rhys in Cannes in southern France while swimming off a super yacht that he was employed on.

Wendy and Russ own Cathedral Cove Dive at Hahei on New Zealand’s beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. Rhys was farewelled on Saturday 17th September in Hahei by hundreds of people who were touched by his adventurous spirit and friendly nature.

Summer is just about here in New Zealand. If you haven’t already, drag out your dive gear and check it over. Have your regulator serviced and, if needed, also your BC.

Check out the continuing diving fatalities discussion on page 44 – interesting points of view!

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