Effects of fishing taken into account
More protection for species like crayfish and Maui’s dolphin could be possible after a High Court ruling that is likely to give regional councils more say in coastal areas, including on some of the effects of fishing.
This after iwi in Tauranga sought better protection for the Astrolabe Reef - decimated when opened up to fishing after the Rena salvage.
Regional councils have control out to 12 nautical miles but, have little say on fishing there. Both the Fishing Act and RMA apply in that area, the High court noted.
Iwi argued the Resource Management Act (RMA) gave the Bay of Plenty Regional Council the ability to protect the reef.
The High Court ruling set aside a previous Environment Court ruling which agreed, but ruled some fishing can be regulated to protect native marine species.
There is no duty to maintain indigenous biodiversity under the Fisheries Act, but it is a core function of Regional Councils under the RMA, the court said.
Not expecting big changes, Auckland Councillor for Waitemata and Gulf and committee member on the Hauraki Gulf Forum Mike Lee sees some benefits for the Gulf.
Mandating tori lines on all fishing boats to avoid seabirds, like black petrels, taking the hooks of longlines could be possible, he said, as would protecting marine mammals from vessels would be a good place to begin, he
‘‘Regional Councils are able to impose controls’’
Marine ecologists Dr Tim Haggitt and Dr Nick Shears said over-fishing had left so few crayfish in the Gulf they were ‘functionally extinct’ calling for fisheries management changes along with fishing pressure outside is affecting the Leigh Marine Reserve.
Set netting and crabbing off northern beaches has seen swimmers tangling in nets, and fears discarded crab bait would attract predatory gulls to a nearby shorebird sanctuary at Omaha but couldn’t be considered except for health and safety.
‘‘It just confirms regional councils are able to impose controls should they be demonstrated as being necessary and appropriate in particular locations,’’ Forest & Bird lawyer Sally Gepp said.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is currently working through the judge’s ruling to fully understand its implications.
Fish life around the Rena remains during salvage operations.