Bold new plan for the Hauraki Gulf announced

A new marine spatial plan for the Hauraki Gulf has been launched.  The collaborative policy blueprint, is called Sea Change -Tai Timu Tai Pari and proposes:-

  • new marine protected areas,
  • rules for polluters with emphasis on controlling sediment 
  • changes to commercial fishing methods
  • suggests areas for an expansion of environmentally sustainable marine farming,

The plan – the first of its kind in New Zealand – seeks to help stem the flow of sediment and other pollutants into the Hauraki Gulf, ease pressures on wildlife, fish stocks and kaimoana and restore the health of crucial ecosystems.

The plan proposes an “impressive array of new approaches designed to reduce conflict and get buy-in to a major restoration effort.” It also had “moral authority” because all groups had been represented in its development ”  It is strategic and wide-ranging, addressing the underlying causes of habitat degradation, poor water quality and fisheries depletion.”  (Gary Taylor EDS)

Here is a summary of the key initiatives


The Plan lays out steps to “phase out” bottom-contact fishing methods such as trawling, Danish seining, set netting and dredging, review the way fish stocks are managed, create 13 new marine protected areas (MPAs) and extend two existing ones.

The suggested sites on the Coromandel for the new MPAs are at the Cape Colville, Alderman (Ruamaahua) Islands, Mercury (Ahuahu) Islands, Slipper (Whakahau) Island and the Firth of Thames.


The new MPAs would include no take areas nested within “larger, special management areas with fisheries management objectives”.

Potential new Coromandel aquaculture areas included sites for inter-tidal shellfish and oysters at Thames, Coromandel Harbour South, Coromandel Harbour North, Whangapoua, mussel and fish sites at Colville, Great Mercury, East Coromandel, and mussel sites at the western Firth of Thames, and Whitianga.


It proposed new rules that would slash sediment and nutrients entering the coastal marine area to levels which support healthy habitats, as well as building more wetland areas to capture sediment.

Although backed by councils, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries, the plan is non-statutory and has been steered by stakeholder working groups that have put environmental, iwi, industry and recreation groups at the same table.

The Plan is impressive and clearly huge resource and effort has gone into developing it. The remarkable thing is that key sectors who are often in conflict – have signed up to it.

This will be a great strength when it comes to implementation: the plan has great “buy in” and will be difficult for Councils and other agencies to ignore.

There is a great deal of detail in the Plan so I expect to highlight other issues in future posts.