Submission on the Tiritiri Matangi Marine Reserve draft proposal for public discussion
Tiritiri Action Group; PO Box 600 Whangaparaoa1463
31 March 2003
New Zealand Underwater Association
PO Box 875
Copy to: The Mayor Rodney District Council
The Minister of Fisheries
The Minister of Conservation
President NZ Recreational Fishing Council
President NZ Big Game Fishing Council
Chairman Option 4
Submission on the Tiritiri Matangi Marine Reserve
draft proposal for public discussion Executive Summary
Tiritiri Action Group (TAG) is not against the formation of marine reserves
but believe they should be part of a regional and strategic national plan.
We do not consider the NZ Biodiversity Strategy a satisfactory plan to
address marine reserves.
The formation of reserves should include those affected in the earliest
stages of planning so issues can be debated and ownership of the solution
becomes a community issue.
TAG does not support justification of the proposal by New Zealand Underwater
Association (NZUA). The proposal does not conform to the purposes of section
3 of the 1971 Marine Reserves Act.
There are serious safety, social and economic concerns about the proposal.
There is currently more than 10% of the local coastline under marine protection.
The proposal places an additional unfair burden of marine restrictions
on the local population.
Biodiversity issues need further qualification of criteria that need to
Fisheries management arguments are not a plausible justification for this
The area proposed has a sewage outlet.
Historical, geographical and cultural justifications are questioned.
TAG is critical of the timings of release of the document and early closure
date for submissions. The subsequent extension was poorly advised.
TAG is critical of mass submissions from national activist groups that
can over ride majority community opinion against the proposal.
The Minister of Fisheries is unlikely to concur as is required under the
Marine Reserve Act when recreational fishing rights will be impinged. The
proposal should wait until the completion of the review of recreational
rights and the government’s Oceans Policy.
Concerned members of the public formed the Tiritiri Action Group (TAG)
in January 2003 in response to the proposed reserve by the NZUA released
in December 2002. Weekly meetings were held in the Hibiscus Coast Boating
Club (HCBC) at Stanmore Bay by key members with the sole purpose to help
raise awareness of the reserve proposal and co-ordinate opposition to it.
TAG are of the belief that there is insufficient public support in the
Rodney and surrounding districts for the proposal to proceed to the formal
application stage. This submission represents the views of the committee
of TAG and signed by the chairman. It is the TAG committee’s case against
the proposed reserve. TAG has encouraged individuals to make their own
TAG convened a meeting Tuesday 4th February of invited members of various
backgrounds to discuss the proposal. Raising funds to place public newspaper
adverts against the proposal, print and distributed submission forms and
staged a public rally at the HCBC Thursday evening of 13 th February. NZUA
was invited to attend and speak at the rally but declined the invitation.
TAG has also informed a number of national and local organisations/clubs
that may be affected should the marine reserve proceed.
The TAG group has an elected committee of a chairman, treasurer and secretary
who have called for public support to further the aim of the group. That
aim is - the Tiritiri Marine Reserve should not proceed as proposed and
further proposals should wait until a co-ordinated national and regional
plan of marine protected areas is formulated.
There are a number of relevant facts that leads TAG to its main aim.
These are amplified as follows.
Marine Reserves Act 1971
The proposal has been written quoting the Marine Reserves Act 1971 as the
tool in which the reserve will be eventually formed under. However we find
in the justification very little that conforms to the Act that would enable
the proposal to meet the requirements of this Act. Certainly marine biodiversity
and representative areas are not part of the purpose of the current Marine
Reserves Act, which are the prime reasons offered by the applicant why
the area chosen should be considered for a reserve. In fact we find the
selected area has little in common with section 3 of the Act to justify
Current restrictions to fishing
The proposal quotes the Auckland Regional Council policy statement of 10%
goal of the coastal area being fully protected marine reserves. Such policy
places an unfair burden on the residents and visitors who fish around Whangaparaoa
Peninsula and Tiritiri Matangi Island for recreation or sustenance. Currently
there is well in excess of 10% of the surrounding area within the Rodney
district already fully protected or has no fishing allowed. These include
the Long Bay and Cape Rodney- Okakari Pt (Goat Island) Reserves, Tawharanui
Marine park, a number of cabled areas including the substantial international
telecommunications cabled area adjourning the proposed reserve area, Naval
Degaussing area and danger area when live firing take place at Whangaparaoa
Naval Range and disused explosive dumping zone south of Tiritiri Island.
The attached chart highlights all the current no fishing areas in close
proximity to the NZUA proposed marine reserve.
In addition to this will be marine aquaculture management areas presently
under formation that will effectively rule out the use of these areas for
any recreational purpose. To add to this the 10% target of areas in full
marine reserve protection would deny a substantial proportion of fishable
water to the residents and visitors to the region on top of those areas
closed to fishing for other reasons. Further if the 10% was applied to
the most productive fishing areas which tends to be the targeted areas
for reserves, then recreational fishing becomes an activity exclusive to
those who have suitable boats and time to travel the distances required
to reach a productive area not restricted to recreational fishing.
TAG submits there is a serious safety issue if the reserve was to proceed.
To remove the most accessible and productive fishing area around Whangapararoa
that has shelter from most wind directions will tempt fishers to proceed
further afield in search of a catch. There are a high proportion of small
craft that frequently fish the proposed reserve area due to the protection
it offers craft in any prevailing wind and sea condition along with accessibility
and productivity. A further safety concern is for the many groups and individuals
that would be attracted to the reserve who are not aware of the risks to
crossing the Whangaparaoa Passage in small craft. While common sense and
good seamanship should prevail there will always be those tempted or caught
out by conditions unsuitable for their craft. Further demands on the marine
search and rescue service, whilst difficult to quantify, will inevitably
The immediate proximity of the large cabled area next to the proposed marine
reserve will result in more incidents of recreational fishers attempting
to anchor and fish in the cabled area. The no fishing cabled area extends
beyond easily recognisable geographic features to assess position. Unless
boats are fitted with GPS plotters or anglers take considerable time to
fix their position with bearings they will be tempted to inaccurately assess
their position. This being encouraged by wanting to stay as close as they
can to the safety of land shelter and the better fishing normally associated
with seabed features near land. While a prohibited activity and one that
is not condoned, a situation will occur if the marine reserve proceeds
that will promote more careless but unintentional intrusions into cabled
areas by both novice and experienced fishers.
Whangaparaoa and Orewa region has a high retired population and many choose
the area because of the availability of recreational and sustenance fishing
close to home and by the use of smaller boats or surfcasting off rocks.
The same argument applies to families who chose to live in the area because
of the easy access to surrounding fishing and availability of work in the
commutable area. The proposed area for reserve status is widely recognised
as the most productive in the region for fishing with easy access and distance
from boat launching facilities or beaches for light craft. To remove this
area will eliminate a prime motivation for many that moved into the region.
The proposed marine reserve constitutes a huge threat to the local population
due to the limited income of the retired and those fishing for sustenance
purposes. For many the proposed area is the only place they can source
fresh fish at a price they can afford. To deny those who choose to live
in the area an opportunity to gather food for themselves is a factor that
has not been considered in the NZUA proposal.
There will be economic factors that should be explored before any decision
is made on future reserves within the region. A study commissioned by MFish
(REC9801) into the economic value of recreational fishing, showed nationally
that recreational fishers spent 973 million dollars annually in recurring
expenses in the pursuit of just five popular recreational species – Snapper,
Kingfish, Rock Lobster, Blue cod and Kahawai. This survey is widely regarded
as conservative as it underestimated the proportion of public that fish,
based on the results of a later survey REC9803 for MFish. The recurring
expenses do not include capital equipment costs such as boats, motors,
rods and reels, which while one off costs would substantially add to the
Given the popularity of fishing for recreation within the region then a
substantial proportion of this annual expenditure is spent within the region.
While this could be broken down pro-rata in terms of population, this also
would be conservative. Targeted research should be commissioned to get
more relevant data on the reduction in economic benefit within the region
if it is no longer an attractive place to fish.
Marine biodiversity is offered as prime justification for this particular
proposal. As said earlier this is not consistent with the current Marine
Reserves Act but in support of this logic the NZ Biodiversity Strategy
is offered. This strategy is less conservative than the Auckland Regional
Council policy in that its action plan includes 10% of marine protected
areas rather than reserves by 2010. The plan does take into consideration
currently protected areas other than marine reserves. As stated earlier
the Rodney district has already achieved this as a region. However there
are some arguments that need qualification.
TAG is not against the formation of reserves outright or the pursuit of
maintaining marine biodiversity. The formation of reserves should be initiated
by a fully explored and debated action plan by all interested parties and
not by various interest groups with self appointed agendas to fulfil. These
plans by necessity would have to be regional in nature and able to fit
into a national plan to achieve the same. The Biodiversity Strategy does
address some of the issues but lacks a good definition of what is an acceptable
level of biodiversity. This requires defining so that the impact of existing
mobile marine species has on the quality of biodiversity in that area can
be assessed. To not have this leaves the NZ Biodiversity strategy open
for abuse as justification for large tracks of coastal waters to be locked
up permanently in reserves.
Sanctuaries and Marine Reserves
TAG is opposed to the justification of having marine reserves surrounding
terrestrial sanctuaries such as Tiritiri. They have no beneficial or detrimental
effect on the rare and endangered species on the Island. Access to the
island can be effectively controlled with current restrictions and will
not be enhanced by the protection of a surrounding marine reserve. If this
justification were accepted then the waters surrounding almost all offshore
islands would be targeted for marine reserves. This is a situation that
would be strongly opposed by the fishing public.
TAG is not opposed to a suitable area being placed into marine reserve
on the grounds of scientific research. However we find little to justify
this proposal under these terms. We ask what scientific research can be
carried out in this locality that is not presently available because of
current fishing practice or could not be accommodated in existing reserves.
TAG submits that any area proposed for reserve status should be with the
consent of the majority of the local population that utilises the proposed
area. This proposal did not effectively seek the endorsement or views of
the local population before NZUA and its supporters devoted considerable
time and expense to the project. Had it done so and received endorsement
then the reaction that it has now received against the proposed reserve
could have been considerably mitigated. It is highly unlikely that the
current proposal would have been endorsed but suitable alternatives acceptable
to majority may have eventuated.
TAG does not support the representative area concept proposed by NZUA.
There is no provision for this in the current Act. Should the current Marine
Reserve Bill eventually modify the act to include representative areas,
then we are confident that suitable alternatives could be found without
the need to lock up large tracks of the best fishable waters found near
the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
NZ has one of the best management systems in the world and using implied
justification that fish stocks need reserve protection for management reasons
shows contempt for our present system. Marine reserves for management reasons
are a last ditch system in countries where there is no or little proper
management of their stocks and subsequently face over fishing both commercial
and recreationally. In a balanced fishery such as New Zealand’s stock recruitment
is a function of favourable ambient sea conditions. The influence of a
number of reserves in virgin state scattered around the region is minimal.
Some would say the difference would be negligible.
While undoubtedly local resident populations of some fish will increase
in number and size in a protected reserve the benefits of this are questionable.
Spillover is a conservationist myth as all current reserves tend to attract
fish into the reserve and may deplete surrounding fishing areas. Scientific
supporters of the Poor Knight reserve openly claimed that snapper stocks
had increased 10 fold within a year of that area being given full marine
reserve status. While not critical of the Poor Knights area as a reserve
it is just plain fanciful to believe that this was caused by natural growth
within the reserve, the majority of this increase was caused by attracting
fish into the reserve from other regions. Fishing near an existing reserve
in the hope of a productive catch is the activity of a novice fisher and
one that they soon learn is a waste of time.
We note that two of the proposed three area options have a sewage effluent
out fall. The current Marine Reserve Bill will if passed in its present
state, deem these to be inappropriate areas for reserve status.
Uniqueness of Tiritiri and Whangaparaoa geographical features. Specifically
the shore platforms around Tiritiri and the cliffs and intertidal platforms
around Whangaparaoa Peninsula. While these may be unique features to the
area we ask what danger do they face that they need full marine reserve
protection. Recreational activities including fishing pose no risk to these
features. If subsequently an activity was identified and agreed by local
and national bodies that it posed a risk to the area then this activity
could be specifically excluded within the at-risk area by use of regulations
under the Fisheries Act.
Historical justifications have no support within the current act. Even
within the new marine reserves Bill sections supporting historical areas
as a justification for marine reserves are tenuous and we await the outcome
of the select committee to see if these remain part of the Bill. We argue
that the wreck of the Royal Tar has limited historical value and is not
threatened by fishing activity.
Issues of cultural significance in the marine environment are best left
to Iwi to pursue with the numerous tools they have at their disposal for
each issue. To pre-empt that a marine reserve status for this area serves
Iwi best is an injustice to them and bound to invite criticism, but we
will leave this for local Iwi to contest.
Timing - 1
TAG formally complained by letter to the NZUA at the timing of the release
and discussion period of their proposal. To release this just before the
nationally recognised holiday period of the traditional Christmas holidays
is viewed with suspicion as to its intent. The letter dated 10th February
2003 asked for an extension due to insufficient notice and useful period
of dissemination of information and adequate time to respond. With
three days to go, before submissions closed we were advised by telephone
that the deadline had been extended to the 31st March. Earlier advice of
the extension would have been appreciated, as it appears that at this informal
stage this should have been easy to grant.
Timing - 2
It subsequently became known to TAG that a press release circulated within
the NZUA membership and to the NZ Forest and Bird Society stated that a
decision to extend the deadline was made on 17th of February. The fact
we were not advised at the same time was poor administrative handling.
With the contempt we have apparently been shown, we have grave doubts that
a logical decision regarding the analysis of the submission returns is
TAG is critical of practices that encourage mass submissions by recognised
national conservation organisations with little connection to the area
concerned. The Whangaparaoa and Orewa area has an estimated 30,000 population.
If every man woman and child responded against this proposal it would still
fall short of a majority influence when just one organisation such as Forest
and Bird Society has 70,000 subscribing members NZ wide and has encouraged
all its members to submit in support of the proposal. This makes a mockery
of the submission process and can force the agenda of a national environmental
action group on a local population against their will.
Recreational fishing rights
Presently, compared to Maori customary and Commercial fishers, the public’s
right to access and harvest food from the marine environment is poorly
defined. While recreational fishers have rights, the access issue is at
the discretion of the Minister of Fisheries to uphold. This is currently
under review by the Minister of Fisheries with a goal of legislation change
within the Fisheries Act 1996 to better define the rights of the public
to recreational and sustenance harvest. This review will better define
the interaction with the other main stakeholders and relationships with
other legislation such as aquaculture, marine protected areas and marine
Also the government is actively creating its Oceans policy which is still
in draft but will also describe public good relationships within the marine
environment. The formation of the proposed reserve will, without doubt,
affect the local and visiting fishers ability to take fish and therefore
impinge their rights. TAG submits that the NZUA proposal should wait until
the completion of the review of recreational fishing rights and completion
of the Oceans policy. Until these reviews are completed there is little
legislated and policy guidance as to the needs of the reserve compared
to the disadvantaged public fishers. Under the current Marine Reserves
Act it is unlikely that the Minister of Fisheries will give his consent
which is required, when recreational fishers will be seriously disadvantaged.
Using the Triple Bottom Line factors of social, economic and environmental
impacts on the local community, this proposal does not comply. TAG also
considers this proposal to have undue and adverse affects on existing use
of the area for recreational purposes as per section 5 of the Marine Reserves
Act part 6 (d), therefore TAG opposes this proposal on these grounds and
the points already stated.
Thank you for the opportunity to have our input. It has been very
valuable in gauging public opinion on a marine reserve in this area.
Local chart showing existing reserves and prohibited fishing areas
in relation to the NZUA proposed reserve area.