A flotilla of crafts surrounding a massive ‘ban bottom trawling’ banner has gathered just off Mission Bay in Auckland this morning in a show of mass opposition to bottom trawling in the Hauraki Gulf marine park.
Hundreds of people turned out on the beach and on the water for the event organised by Greenpeace Aotearoa and Forest & Bird. Over 60 vessels from yachts to kayaks and paddleboards joined the flotilla, surrounding a huge banner calling for an end to bottom trawling in the Gulf.
“We’re here to call for an end to destructive bottom trawling in the Hauraki Gulf Tīkapa Moana to protect our big blue backyard for the future,” says Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper.
“All these people are here today because they want a thriving, vibrant Hauraki Gulf, free from the threat of destructive bottom trawling. Trawling has no place in this precious marine park and the public mandate for change is clear – over 84% of people surveyed want trawling gone from the Gulf. It’s time the Government listens and bans bottom trawling so the Gulf can recover.”
Forest & Bird Hauraki Gulf coordinator Bianca Ranson says, “Tīkapa Moana is a biodiversity hotspot, it is a taonga, and we must do everything we can to revitalise the mauri and life-sustaining capacity of the Gulf. Everything is connected in an ecosystem and it is deeply disappointing that bottom trawling is still being allowed to continue.
“From Byrde’s whales to manta ray and tarakihi to tāiko, the Hauraki Gulf is home to a treasure trove of marine life and bottom trawling puts all that life at risk, destroying the seafloor and indiscriminately catching more than the Gulf can sustain.
“Right now the Government is considering decisions that will determine if the Gulf thrives or declines further into ecological collapse. We’re here to tell the Government to listen to the tens of thousands of people that want protection, and not be influenced by fishing industry lobbyists. We need to protect the Gulf, not the interests of the fishing industry.”
Bottom trawling is an indiscriminate fishing method that involves dragging large weighted nets across the seafloor, bulldozing ocean life and destroying precious ecosystems. A single trawl can create a sediment plume comparable in size to the entire Goat Island Marine Reserve, choking filter-feeding animals and smothering photosynthesising organisms.
The ‘Show Your Heart For The Hauraki’ event comes as bottom contact fishing methods are increasingly criticised for contributing to ecosystem collapse in the Gulf, alongside a raft of other pressures including sedimentation and climate change.
“Removing the pressure of bottom trawling is a no brainer. The Sea Change proposal – a collaborative plan to reverse the Gulf’s decline – recommended the removal of bottom trawling, yet the Government has chosen to forge ahead with leaving vast areas of the Gulf open to destruction,” says Ranson (see p60, Fig. 19).
Says Hooper: “To turn things around for the Gulf and to allow this once abundant place to recover, bottom trawling has got to go. The time for action is now.
“This Marine Park was created over 20 years ago but the research shows that species are still in decline. This is because the action was nowhere near bold enough, and avoided tackling the key drivers of biodiversity loss.
“If the government wants to protect the Gulf for the future – enough with the half measures. We urge them to ban bottom trawling from the Marine Park, so we can all enjoy it in the future.”
Call upon the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries to ban all forms of mobile bottom-contact fishing including bottom trawling, scallop dredging and Danish seining within the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.