Credit: NIWA/James Williams

Posted on 15 February 2023

Seafood Magazine: FNZ project to help monitor health of the Hauraki Gulf

Shared with permission from Seafood New Zealand Magazine - February 2023

The Sustainable Seas Challenge and Fisheries New Zealand are co-leading a new project looking at Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) in Te Moananui-a-Toi, Tīkapa Moana or the Hauraki Gulf. The project will help the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) implement one of the fisheries management components of ‘Revitalising the Hauraki Gulf: Government action on the sea change plan’.

The project involves co-development with a variety of stakeholders including MPI, Tangata Whenua, the Department of Conservation, regional councils, commercial and recreational fishers, scientists, and local communities to establish suitable indicators for monitoring the Hauraki Gulf fisheries system.

The project is part of the government’s response to the 2017 Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan. It will take an EBFM approach to help MPI co-develop, in partnership with Tangata Whenua and stakeholders, a set of suitable indicators for monitoring the Hauraki Gulf fisheries system.

The new indicator framework will consider ecological, economic, social, and cultural components of the fisheries system, measure progress and evaluate the impact of the Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan and other future initiatives and identify potential indicators for which there are currently no data. The proposed framework will then be shared with stakeholders and the wider public at the conclusion of the project, which runs until mid-2024.

The Revitalising the Gulf project is being co-led by Darren Parsons (NIWA) and Adam Slater (MPI). Darren Parsons says that while EBFM is not a new concept, traditionally fisheries have been managed in New Zealand on a single-species basis.

“The quota management system does a good job but it’s not broad, holistic, or interconnected. It doesn’t fully take into account effects on the benthic environment or on other target species, bycatch species, or values from a variety of stakeholders and partners.”

The Hauraki Gulf, or Te Moananui-a-Toi, Tīkapa Moana, spans 1.2 million hectares and extends 12 nautical miles from the east coast of the Auckland and Waikato regions. With sheltered estuaries and open sea to depths of over 250 metres, it is a commercial port and transport route as well as a popular tourist destination.

With an abundance of diverse marine life, the Hauraki Gulf is highly valued for its commercial and recreational fisheries, but multiple stressors including fishing, pollutants, sediments, invasive species, and the impacts of climate change are all taking a toll. In recent years many of the Hauraki Gulf’s most valued fish species have been reduced, including tarakihi, kōura (rock lobster), tipa (scallops), and tuangi (cockles).

EBFM is an adaptive approach, meaning it identifies risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities and then responds to them with both short-term and long-term strategies to build resilient ecosystems that will benefit future generations. EBFM is a broader approach to fisheries management, encompassing the perspectives, values, and knowledge of diverse groups with vested interests and connections.

Significantly, the Hauraki Gulf has a rich cultural history and spiritual value for Tangata Whenua, who have an intimate knowledge of the Gulf from many centuries of settlement on its shores and the collection of kaimoana (seafood) in its waters.

Darren Parsons says the main goal of the 18-month project is to collectively agree on the most important indicators relating to the health of the Hauraki Gulf.

“We’re looking for broader fisheries indicators, while taking into account partner and stakeholder values across socio-economic and cultural values. For example, are Tangata Whenua being enabled as kaitiaki, are our protected seabirds and benthic habitats responding positively?”

For more information, click here.

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