Thursday, August 7, 2014
Māori and Iwi Say No to Bay of Islands Marine Reserves:
Māori and iwi fish representatives combined to send a clear message to promoters of a marine reserve in the Bay of Islands they wouldn’t support the idea.
Individual fishers, lobby groups and representatives of iwi and hapū gathered under the umbrella of the Hokianga Accord and met in Paihia today (August 7) to consider the idea of the Bay of Islands marine reserve being promoted by Fish Forever.
Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-O-Ngāpuhi Chair Rāniera (Sonny) Tau said a marine reserve would prohibit Māori access to gather kai moana and fish.
“With marine reserves you can’t go out and get your kai when you want,” he said. “On the land we can practice our traditions of gathering food when we want.”
Sonny said a better solution was a mataitai reserve where the tangata whenua manage all non commercial fishing by making bylaws. A mataitai also gave locals the ability to keep the commercial fishers out of a given area.
“The fact for our iwi and hapū is that when you lock up a place like that forever [put in place a marine reserve] you move the fisheries pressure point from that to other areas,” said Sonny.
“The fish don’t know where the boundaries are [for marine reserves]. Just because you say it’s a marine reserve doesn’t mean the fish know its boundaries.”
Greenpeace representaive Mike Smith supported Sonny’s comments, even though he noted he had seen firsthand the benefits of marine reserves.
“There was a time when I was young with a family and I couldn’t afford to feed my kids and I had to rely on the sea. It’s the difference between your kids eating or not,” said Mike.
“The last thing we want to be doing is criminalising our people because it doesn’t work.”
Waitangi resident Albie Apiata said he had seen a lot of bad practices, especially by commercial fishers and chartered boat operators.
“It hurts,” said Albie. “The commercial operators and the charter boats exceed the bag limits for the sake of overseas tourists and then when they’re finished or can’t eat what they’ve caught they dump it in our water.”
“Four years ago we told Fish Forever not to shut our cupboard [access to the sea]. If you do that then you better have another cupboard,” he said.
“Our people don’t want our cupboard shut down.”
Ngāti Kuta and Patukeha representative Jackie Rewha said a comprehensive mana moana fisheries management plan was in place in Te Rawhiti, including a rahui in Maunganui Bay.
Fish Forever spokesman Vince Kerr said marine reserves were not new and had been supported by other iwi, including Ngāti Porou and Ngai Tahu.
Their proposal is to establish marine sanctuaries in Waewaetorea Reserve and Maunganui Bay.
He said marine reserves slowly increase productivity in the natural ecosystem.
“So the ocean floor resembles that that existed thousands of years ago. Even though there’s displacement coming out of the marine reserve, the productivity outweighs the displacement... it’s like throwing a turbo charger under the environment where restoration can take place.”
Bay of Islands marine reserves were necessary to return the area to its natural state and replenish the marine biodiversity.
Fish Forever’s objective is to protect approximately 10% of the enclosed waters in the Bay of Islands as a network of no-take areas.