Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Hauraki Gulf a hive of economic and recreational activity

A long-term investigation has been launched into the economic benefits of the Hauraki Gulf's 1.2 million ha of ocean. The aim is to establish the value of its ecosystems, which will influence policy decisions managing tradeoffs between business and environmental values. In the inquiry's first-phase report to the Hauraki Gulf Forum, Wayne Thompson finds a tentative stocktake of activities and opportunities but one showing a wide range of benefits to residents and visitors.

Cruise ships, water sports and dredging are some of the many activities on the Hauraki Gulf. Photo / Dean Purcell
Cruise ships, water sports and dredging are some of the many activities on the Hauraki Gulf. Photo / Dean Purcell

Ports of Auckland: value added $257m

Cruise ship industry: value added $69m

Marine recreation: value added $550m

Recreational fishing: value added $81m

Sand mining: value added $10m

Ports of Auckland
*value added $257m (2008)
*jobs 2027 full & part-time.

Auckland's economy depends on international trade so the port's influence reaches beyond the money it gets from handling containers, bulk cargo and vehicles. In 2010-11 it handled 36 per cent of the country's total freight.

Covec consultancy says 1700 cargo ships called at Auckland in 2008. The total economic impact on the region was $144 million of GDP in 2008, including $44 million from flow-on effects to other industries, such as transport and warehouses.

Last year, Market Economics consultancy reviewed the impacts of the port and found it added a direct value to the Auckland economy of $109 million and 652 jobs a year.

It gave a higher estimate of the flow-on effects (excluding cruise ships) of $138.5 million. It further estimated the port's direct output would grow by 30-60 per cent and assumed that transport and storage shared this growth.

Removing the port from Auckland to Tauranga, including cruise ships, would depress the Auckland economy by $700 million a year of value added gdp, with a loss of 900 jobs in Auckland.

Cruise ship industry
*value added $69m (2009)
*jobs 928 full & part-time.

Auckland is the country's main port for stopovers and also for embarking and disembarking, hosting 70 to 100 calls a year.

Visits have increased by 62 per cent in the past two years. Ships based here are getting bigger and a $14.6 million terminal is being built.

However, Auckland's share of days that passengers and crew spend in New Zealand is only 20 per cent of the national figure.

The gulf's islands are not a significant attraction for passengers and major cruise ships. "They form an essential part of the scenic backdrop and give local excursions that help to keep Auckland on the international cruise circuit."

Economic benefits include the cruise ships spending on port berthage fees, bunkering and maintenance; passengers shopping and sightseeing on shore and crew shopping and recreation.

Market Economics says that during the 2009-10 season, the direct gross revenue from Auckland's share of the industry was $167 million. However, about 60 per cent of the value goes offshore to buy goods and services, leaving about $66.6 9 million of value added to the regional economy in 2009-10.

Marine recreation
*value added $550m (2008)
*jobs 5781 full time.

The industry relies on the presence of the gulf. Its waters provide one of the largest cruising areas in the world and protection from the weather of the South Pacific cyclone season.

Major international events, and a strong reputation for the range and quality of services offered by the Auckland industry, attract super-yachts. Marinas from Gulf Harbour to Whitianga provide 5471 berths.

In 2008, Market Economics assessed the turnover of Auckland's marine industry at $1.22 billion or 64 per cent of of national turnover, including export and import.

However, council economists have excluded the value of intermediate goods and services used in the production process from the total value of sales.

*value added $99m (2008/10)
*jobs 939 full time for Auckland & Waikato.

Mussel, oyster and finfish farming and processing is a growth industry in Auckland and the Coromandel. The Aquaculture Council aims to achieve an output of $1 billion by 2025.

Last year the Government passed a number of reforms to stimulate and support that growth.

In 2009-10, the total national economic impact of the gulf's aquaculture sector was estimated to be $98.6 million, of which two-thirds came from the Waikato and a third from Auckland.

A study by Sapere in 2011 suggested the Coromandel aquaculture sector would be boosted by an extra 640ha of mussel farms by 2025 and 5000 tonnes produced by kingfish farming.

The Aquaculture Minister has powers to recommend changes to a coastal plan about aquaculture management, with provision for council, iwi and the public to be consulted.

Commercial fishing
*value added $41m (2010)
*jobs 1183 full time.

Boyd Fisheries Consultants says the "character and reputation of Auckland's waterfront is enhanced by the supply of clean, safe and sustainable seafood" from the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. The hospitality sector relies on fresh fish and shellfish from the gulf.

"Local residents and international visitors alike enjoy seafood from these waters."

Boyd estimates last year's market value of the individual transferable quota rights for finfish in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park was $130 million.

Snapper accounts for 80 per cent of this total.

The gulf is only a small part of the fisheries management area for the northeast coast but half of the commercial snapper catch comes from there.

The industry says catch controls unfairly favour recreational fishing and it should be capped.

It compares the estimated 1354 tonnes of snapper caught by amateurs inside a line from Cape Colville to Cape Rodney in 2004-5 with the 1100 tonnes caught by commercial vessels in 2010-11.

Council economists estimate that the 2,275, 752kg of snapper caught in the gulf last year had an export value of $23.6 million.

Assuming that 90 per cent of the fish were exported, it estimates the rest was eaten locally and its price was 20 per cent higher than the export value or $4,825,559.

Recreational fishing
*value added $81m (2010)
*jobs no figure.

Pressure on fish stocks has increased because of growing population, incomes and technology, such as GPS, gear and boats.

Considering that part of the gulf is adjacent to a third of the country's population, the easy access to fishing areas and availability of fish is a unique feature of an urban environment.

The study says determining the value of recreation fishing is complex because fishers do not have to give official catch records. A further difficulty is that people go fishing for a number of reasons, apart from avoiding a fish shop spend up, and how do you value those?

Council economists applied two different measures based on catch figures and costs of buying fish. They arrived at a range of values of recreational fishing from $10.1 million to $80.8 million This was based on the Fisheries Ministry estimate of 1345 tonnes of snapper caught in the gulf by amateur fishing in 2011.

By one of the measures, the value of the recreational snapper catch was $40.4 million.

*value added $937 m (2008)
*jobs 15,742 full time equivalents.

Nature-based tourist trips for the Hauraki Gulf in 2008 are estimated at 2.9 million compared with 1.9 million for Auckland and 1 million for the Coromandel.

Recreational and cultural benefits that Auckland residents receive from the gulf are significant.

Low-income residents benefit from living near it and public access to free or low-cost use of its amenities.

This represents an important and, not yet accounted, value provided by the gulf.

Infometrics says the total Auckland tourism sector employed 35,440 people in 2011 and generated a direct gdp value of $2110 million.

On that basis, the study estimates 15,742 gulf-related jobs, of which 11,453 are generated in Auckland and 4289 jobs in the Coromandel.

The result was a total GDP impact for Auckland of $681 million and for Coromandel $255 million.

International tourists made only 30 per cent of total nature-based trips in the gulf.

However, they made 63 per cent of the economic splash.

Major yachting and beach-based events could add up to $90 million of GDP for Auckland, says the study.

One of the gulf's six marine reserves, the Cape Rodney-Okakari Pt (Goat island) Marine Reserve, was highlighted.

It had 375,000 visitors in the year to February 2008 and generated $18.6 million of the Rodney District's turnover, including $5.5 million of household income.

The reserve created 173 fulltime equivalent jobs.

Sand mining
*value added $10m (2010)
*jobs 100 full time.

Auckland uses up to 150,000cu m of sea sand a year from the gulf for construction and city beach nourishment projects.

An average price of $33cu m puts mining's GDP impact at up to $10 million a year. The gulf's resource allows barging which eases the cost of civil roading and drainage projects.

- NZ Herald

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