Seachange: Gulf plan a 'major achievement'

Seachange: Gulf plan a 'major achievement'

The Hauraki Gulf document addresses the underlying causes of habitat degradation, poor water quality and fisheries depletion.

Media coverage of the launch:

Radio NZ 

NZ Herald (Jamie Morton)

NZ Herald (Gary Taylor) 

TV3 – Newshub 

Scoop Independent News 

Radio NZ interview 

It's a historic moment: the Seachange Tai Timu Tai Pari process has delivered New Zealand's first marine spatial plan.

This is a major achievement, not to be underestimated.

In a context where fisheries management, marine reserves and aquaculture space are fiercely contested, a group containing the main protagonists has reached agreement on the gulf's future.

It began five years ago, when the State of the Gulf report highlighted the ongoing decline of the area, despite the best efforts of the various agencies charged with its care.

Clearly a new approach was required, with Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries taking up the challenge.

They were keen to explore the potential of marine spatial planning, an approach which was at the cutting edge of marine management internationally.

Inspired by the success of the Land and Water Forum, it was agreed that the plan would be developed through a collaborative process.

The collaborative stakeholder working group was to be overseen by a co-governance entity, with equal membership from mana whenua on one side and council, government agencies and the Hauraki Gulf Forum on the other.

The resulting plan, which has just been released, is a gutsy document that deserves to be taken seriously.

It is strategic and wide-ranging, addressing the underlying causes of habitat degradation, poor water quality and fisheries depletion.

It has also identified new space for protected areas and aquaculture.

Huge resource and effort has gone into developing the plan. The remarkable thing is that key sectors have signed up to it.

This is a great strength when it comes to implementation: the plan has great moral force and will be difficult to ignore.

The plan signals the need for a beefed up governance entity, to ensure effective implementation, and this will require legislative change.

This needs to proceed swiftly.

There is much that can be done meanwhile.

Everybody needs to get behind the plan so that its vision of a healthy, productive and abundant Hauraki Gulf becomes a reality.

Gary Taylor is chief executive of the Environmental Defence Society (EDS).

See the article online NZ Herald.

Read Raewyn Peart's (Policy Director, EDS) speech at the launch of Seachange on 6 December. 

Last updated at 4:48PM on December 12, 2016