Political opponents and fishing industry cast doubts over park proposals

The Government's plan to limit commercial fishing in the Hauraki Gulf has received a less than enthusiastic response from its political opponents, environmentalists and the fishing industry.

The plan includes reform of marine protection legislation, and proposes to ban some but not all commercial fishing in new marine parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

Commercial fishers will be able to catch certain species, but not those popular with recreational fishers, including snapper, kahawai and john dory.

Customary fishing and marine farming would not be affected. Some petroleum and mineral activity could be allowed.


Labour fisheries spokesman Rino Tirikatene said the Government failed to fulfil its pre-election promise after saying all commercial activity would be excluded.

Scott Macindoe, spokesman for the recreational fishing lobby LegaSea, said the fishing parks would exist within fully exploited fish stock areas, and so were unlikely to grow the size of fish stocks.

The Green Party's environment spokeswoman Eugenie Sage said: "It is tinkering with the existing laws rather than providing the basis for the step change in oceans protection."

Sanford chief operations officer Greg Johansson said the company had questions around the impact on quota.

"Sanford's preference is an approach where both commercial and recreational fishers are equally responsible for recording, monitoring and managing the health of the fishery."

National's Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said: "I think the proposed park is aimed to strike the right balance between protecting and managing this valuable area, while ensuring the Hauraki Gulf remains a fisherman's playground."

The Government expected to pay up to $20 million to compensate for the commercial quota loss in both areas.

Public submissions on the proposal close on May 11.