A proposal to protect at least 20 per cent of the 1.2 million hectare Hauraki Gulf Marine Park has sparked debate from all sides. In a two-part series Michael Neilson takes a look at worrying state of Auckland's big blue backyard, and plans to restore it. Today: The state of the gulf.

Moana Tamaariki-Pohe fondly recalls collecting pipi and tuangi (cockles) off the shore at Okahu Bay as a child during the 1970s and, with friends and family, cooking them up on the beach.

She remembers paddling out into the bay, and fishing for flounder.

Her father, the

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Declining fish stocks

Impacts from humans mounting

Sedimentation adding to gulf woes