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New Zealand to ban bottom fishing for most of marine park


Wellington, Aug 29 (IANS) The New Zealand government on Tuesday announced its plans to ban bottom fishing from the vast bulk of the Hauraki Gulf to better protect the 1.2-million-hectare marine park.

Options announced showed bottom-trawling and Danish seining could be banned from up to 89 per cent of the Hauraki Gulf marine park, reports Xinhua news agency.

Currently, only 27 per cent of the gulf is closed to bottom trawling and Danish seining.

“Aucklanders and others have called for greater protection for their beloved big blue backyard, the Hauraki Gulf,” Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rachel Brooking said before a public consultation opening on Wednesday.

The gulf has great ecological, historical and social significance and is a vital part of New Zealand’s tourism, transport and seafood sectors, with an economic value of NZ$100 billion ($59 billion), Brooking said, adding that the right balance needs to be made to ensure it is healthy and available for future generations.

The new Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan, the country’s first area-specific, ecologically-based fisheries plan, was also released, which overturns the presumption that bottom-trawling and Danish seining can be used everywhere except in specified areas.

“Instead, they will be banned everywhere except in very specific and limited places, called trawl corridors, or Bottom Fishing Access Zones,” said the minister.

Sedimentation, nutrient run-off and climate change all threaten the health of the gulf, she said, adding that new rules requiring farmers to manage their land better, offer the tools to help stop soils and fertilizers washing into the sea.

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park covers an area of more than 1.2 million hectares. There are more than 50 islands within the park, many of which are public conservation lands.

The marine parklies on the east coast of the Auckland and Waikato regions, and includes the Waitemata Harbour, Firth of Thames and eastern coastline of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Most islands are open to the public, but some are sanctuaries for endangered species and a permit is required to visit.

Five marine reserves are also included within the park.


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