Important snags in the Great Barrier marine reserve
application process
By Dr J Floor Anthoni (2004)

A number of important snags and stumbling blocks lie in the way of a marine reserve at Great Barrier Island, as applied for by the Department of Conservation. In any marine reserve application, the adjacent land owners, the local bodies, the local fishermen and affected Government Bodies are those that need to be considered most. But all these have very serious and real objections. Logically, and based on all available evidence, the Application should fail.
-- Seafriends home -- the war for marine reserves index -- Rev: 20041029,

The Mabey family submission to the application for a marine reserve
at Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

The Director General of Conservation
C/- Auckland Conservator
Department of Conservation
Private Bag 68-908


We, as adjoining, long term landowners to the proposed area totally Object to the Application for a Marine Reserve for the following reasons.

  1. It will adversely affect our right to recreationally sustenance fish as our property is right in the middle of the proposed area.  The Mabey family has resided here & fished these waters for five generations & fresh fish is a big part of our diet.
  2. No other forms of Marine Protection have been investigated by Department of Conservation.  There has just been 'tunnel vision' for a no take reserve. There are other mechanisms to achieve Marine Protection, including Mataitai which we believe would deliver far better Marine protection & conservation as the people of Great Barrier decide the rules, over time as required.
  3. A Marine Reserve will affect the tourism business interests that we run as 95% of our clients are attracted because of the ability to catch a fish for the table.  People will not come all the way to the Barrier at considerable cost just to look. A recent survey done by a local business shows a significant loss of income to the north if a reserve were to go ahead as many of the visiting boaties that come now would go elsewhere.
  4. There has been an overwhelming public rejection of the current proposal, both locally and off-Island.  The people of the Barrier soundly rejected the application at a recent public Meeting (over 90% still opposed) and Department of Conservation still claim they have solid support which is obviously incorrect.
  5. The proposed area is a de-facto Marine Reserve (apart from Commercial Fishing) as weather governs access.  Locking out recreational fishers is not the answer as their impact is minimal.
  6. Of real concern to our family is the damage done to our credibility on page 20 of the application document.  Never did we ask for a concession, this was DoC's way of trying to buy our support as we have always objected to the marine reserve proposal.  We have been bombarded with accusations of 'doing deals' with DoC ever since the release of the Application document.  We would have never imagined being treated like this.
  7. All members of our family submitted in 2003 opposing the Marine reserve proposal. We believe the submission questionnaire published with the proposal document was unbalanced & 'loaded'. Our opposition to the reserve should have been noted in the Application document.
  8. We believe that the time has come for a coordinated and integrated approach to marine protection for the waters of Great Barrier. This one dimensional marine reserve application fails to achieve marine protection for the following reasons.

In summary, we are not opposed to the concept of Marine Protection, but totally object to this current Marine Reserve Application for the above reasons.

The Mabey Family
Mabey Road
PO Box 36
Great Barrier Island

09 4290132

Great Barrier Marine Reserve Application
Objection by Auckland City Council
1 October 2004

1 October 2004

Director General of Conservation
Department of Conservation
Auckland Conservancy
Private Bag 68-908
Auckland City

Dear Mr Logan


Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission on the Department‚s Application for a marine reserve on the north-east cost of Great Barrier Island.

I note that this application is a continuation of the consultation undertaken by the Department in March 2003 and I acknowledge that the Department has broadly addressed many of the issues raised in Auckland City's previous submission to the March 2003 Discussion Document.

Auckland City is not able to support the Department's Aotea Marine Reserve Application as it has significant reservations and concerns that do need to be addressed before Council can support the Reserve application. Auckland City‚s reservations and concerns are detailed below.

Relationship to the development of a Strategic Plan for the Hauraki Gulf
In September 2003 the Hauraki Gulf Forum considered two reports, the first, prepared by Auckland City, outlined the need to consider strategically integrating and balancing the protection and use of the Hauraki Gulf's marine reserve environment. The second report prepared jointly by the Department and MFish set out a process for development of a strategic plan for the Gulf. The Hauraki Gulf Forum adopted the recommendations in both reports.

Council is seeking a systematic approach to the selection of marine protection sites based on scientific research using set criteria while balancing wider social, economic, cultural and environmental considerations. This approach enables a wider use of protection measures such as the creation of marine reserves and the application of fishery management tools to enable site specific protection measures to be applied to particular marine circumstances.

Auckland City supports the development of an over all plan for the provision of marine protected areas within the Gulf to ensure:

A more systematic approach is taken to marine site selection;

In addition, Council notes that the Marine Reserves Bill proposes a range of marine management tools and the better integration of marine reserves protection with other existing marine tools and mechanisms.  Auckland City considers that this Bill, together with a strategic plan for the provision of marine protected areas within the Gulf will provide a more comprehensive and targeted range of protection mechanisms for the Hauraki Gulf. In doing so it will create an effective balance between management and protection of marine environments and community expectations.

In acknowledging that there should be a strategic approach to marine reserve planning, Auckland City would prefer the Department to postpone its Aotea Marine Reserve application and to reassess the suitability of the site once a plan has been developed for marine protected areas within the Hauraki Gulf.

Commercial Fishing
Auckland City remains extremely concerned about the depletion of fish stocks and continued degradation of benthic marine environments in the Hauraki Gulf through the cumulative impact of bulk commercial fishing practices.

Accordingly Council supports the effects of a marine reserve that excludes commercial fishing in the proposed reserve area. However, Council remains concerned about the continuing impacts of commercial fishing within the wider Hauraki Gulf. Of particular concern is the expected displacement and intensification of commercial fishing as a result of the reserve to other parts of the Hauraki Gulf, particularly around the south-eastern coast of Great Barrier Island.

Auckland City believes the Department has to consider and address the adverse impact a reserve will have on the rest of the Hauraki Gulf and work with MFish to ensure that fishery management tools, such as an reduction in permitted commercial fishery quotas for the Hauraki Gulf is implemented. This approach is again consistent with Auckland City's initiative to have an overall plan for the provision of marine protected areas within the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

 Customary and subsistence fishing rights
In Council's previous submission in 2003, we advised that the Department needed to give further consideration to the social and economic impacts of the proposed marine reserve on local residents, particularly those along the north-east coastline.

Auckland City considers it is important to distinguish between recreational and subsistence/customary fishing. Due to the relative isolation of Great Barrier Island, its residents rely heavily on fishing to support and supplement their diet. The Department has acknowledged this in its offer of an exemption to allow limited fishing in the reserve by the Mabey and Rope Family Trust. Council strongly supports this approach.

However, Auckland City is aware of several other landowners and residents in the vicinity of the reserve, ncluding those adjacent to the Whangapoua Estuary, who also rely on the ability to fish in the area to supplement their diet and will be materially affected by the reserve. Auckland City strongly supports the Department making a similar offer to all landowners and residents that will be affected by the marine
Council is aware that residents and landowners from other parts of the Island also need to fish in the proposed reserve area to supplement their diet from time to time. This is particularly necessary when their fishing is restricted due to inclement weather in other parts of the Gulf or when competing with recreational fishers during peak seasons. We consider that there is a case for the Department to consider granting permitted (limited) fishing rights to these existing landowners and residents.

Auckland City understands that there are at least two possible mechanisms under the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that could provide for limited subsistence and customary fishing by existing residents and landowners of Great Barrier Island, these are under:

Auckland City has significant concerns about the extent and appropriateness of the consultation undertaken by the Department since receipt of submissions in March 2003. This concern arises, as there appears to be significant groups, such as tangata whenua and adjacent landowners (as noted above) who have not been adequately consulted with, and whose legitimate concerns remain outstanding.

While the Department appears to have undertaken due consultation process as required by the current Marine Reserves Act, it is of grave concern that significant affected parties have not been proactively engaged in discussions to identify options for resolving potential adverse impacts on the established way of life and means of support for islanders.

Council expects that where residents and landowners are likely to be adversely affected by the proposal the Department must negotiate appropriate outcomes with individual landowners.

Eco-tourism and Visitor Industry benefits to the Island
The Council is responsible for providing the strategic direction for the long-term future of the Great Barrier Island, in accordance with the Community‚s vision for the island.  This vision is based around prosperity generated by an expanded visitor industry catering for active and passive land and sea based experiences, while being mindful of the need to maintain the unique character of the island and to provide for the diverse range of the residents‚ existing lifestyles.

The proposed marine reserve offers the opportunity to:

Establishing Great Barrier Island as an eco-tourism destination provides the opportunity to find the balance between conservation and development of a sustainable economy on the island. In doing so Council consider that it is vital that the economic benefits of enhanced eco-tourism opportunities on Great Barrier Island are managed in such a way that such benefits and opportunities flow back to and through the Island community.

Auckland City has particular concerns about how the Department will manage these opportunities especially in relation to the granting of concessions to commercial operators to work within the marine reserve. The Department needs to consider the criteria for granting concessions before a reserve is established and that the granting of any concessions to operate a commercial operation in the reserve should provide the local community with decision-making rights and with a possible right of veto.

The economic benefits that will accrue to the Island through continued investment and re-investment in the Island (for example the building and management of hotels/motels) by commercial operators with Department concessions will be considerable and would in the medium to long term create an economic base for the island to grow and develop from.

However, there is also potential for negative impacts on the local economy and social fabric of the island in allowing concession holders to operate in the reserve without investing in the island or having regard to the island‚s social and economic development. This would be catastrophic and is inconsistent with the Governments economic growth and social development goals. Further such an outcome would be in direct conflict with Council‚s strategic direction for the Island and the Gulf.

Importantly if the Eco-tourism benefits are to be realised the management and granting of marine reserve concessions needs to be integrated with land conservation areas on the island. This is important as the granting of concessions giving exclusive rights of control and management of all or part of the reserve to a private entity has the potential for restricting public access to a conservation area through charging mechanisms and other means such as monopolising access points.

The proposed marine reserve would enhance tourism opportunities and if managed appropriately is consistent with the promotion of Great Barrier Island as an eco-tourism destination. However, this will require a recognition that local economic development takes a significant time and is incremental.

Both the Council and the Department will need to work together with the local community to facilitate and support the development of eco-tourism opportunities. The Department of Conservation, Auckland City Council and visitors to the island, will need to support the local economy in simple ways such as by purchasing goods and services on the island, where practicable.

By working with the local community and encouraging it to have ownership‚ of the marine reserve, there are likely to be benefits to the Department which include providing assistance with the monitoring of activities within the reserve, and community promotion and education of the purpose and benefits of marine reserves.

As stated earlier Auckland City is unable to support the Department's Aotea Marine Reserve Application as the application raises significant concerns for the Council. If the Department is able to address these concerns then Council is able to support the Reserve application. To assist the Department Auckland City has a number of recommendations, which will address it concerns and reservations.


  1. That the Department undertake further consultation with tangata whenua to discuss the Ngati Rehua Ngati Wai ki Aotea Trust Board‚s outstanding concerns with an expectation that the Department will work constructively towards an amicable outcome agreeable to both parties.
  2. That the Department undertake further consultation with all adjoining landowners and residents, including those adjoining the Whangapoua Estuary, to the proposed reserve to discuss their concerns, and any practical means by which these concerns may be over come.

Commercial Fishing

3.That the Department work with MFish to ensure the effects of displaced commercial fishing in the Hauraki Gulf, resulting from the establishment of the marine reserve, is managed through a reduction in commercial fishing quotas for the Hauraki Gulf.

Customary and Subsistence fishing

4.That in recognition of the reliance of Islanders on their ability to fish in the vicinity of theisland in a subsistence manner that the Department :
a.  Liaise further with those whose land adjoins the reserve, including those adjoining the Whangapoua Estuary, and provide an exemption to fish in the reserve on the same basis as that offered to the Mabey and Rope Families. With the condition that such exemptions will be extinguished if land is sold.
b.Give consideration to permitting existing landowners and residents of Great Barrier, including tangata whenua, to fish in the reserve under a permit system, or other suitable mechanism established by way of a notice in the Gazette given by the Minister, or a condition on the Order in Council establishing the marine reserve. Such a permit or other suitable mechanism could include conditions specifying the location, fishing methods, catch type and size and number of days allowed in the reserve.


5.That the Department ensure that decisions regarding the granting of concessions rest with a local Island Trust to ensure benefits of development and services flow in to and through the local community. One option Council is willing to promote is the establishment of an Island Trust with membership including local community, tangata whenua and Council.
6.That the Department, together with Auckland City, good faith in partnering with the Island community and show leadership in supporting the local economy, in such simple ways such as through purchase of goods and services (for example fuel) on the island, wherepracticable.
Auckland City would like to thank the Department of Conservation for the opportunity to make a submission on its application for a marine reserve for Great Barrier Island.  We look forward to the Department addressing our significant concerns and working with the Department to further develop a strategic approach to the protection and management of the Hauraki Gulf, and the implementation of a marine reserve.

The MoU developed between our organisations will provide a foundation for a co-operative and collaborative relationship to ensure the benefits of a reserve to the natural environment, the local community and to visitors are realised.

                               Yours sincerely
                               Bryan G Taylor
                               Chief Executive

Great Barrier Marine Reserve Application
Submission by MTA
September 2004

A submission from the NZ Marine Transport Association Inc.


The NZ Marine Transport Association thanks you for the opportunity to present its submission on the proposed Great Barrier Island marine reserve.
The Marine Transport Association (MTA) represents the national and regional interests of New Zealand's marine charter, passenger ferry, barging and aquaculture vessel operators.   We have approximately 250 financial members, including most of the industry's leaders. The Association's members operate in “restricted limits” – i.e. in coastal waters such as the Hauraki Gulf, Marlborough Sounds or Fiordland, or on inland waterways such as lakes and rivers.

Members have been invited to comment on this submission.

There are five sectors in the Association :

Because our members are active in both fishing and sightseeing activities (and on occasion, both in the same business) there is a tension between those two possibly conflicting activities in the marine environment. However, this submission intends to meet both sectors' needs and present a unified approach.

   2.What we support in principle in regard to marine reserves
We are concerned about our natural marine resources and support the use of a range of tools to provide for the protection of the marine environment and sustainable use of fish and shellfish stocks.  There is no doubt that sections of the coastline should be set aside for scientific study or public enjoyment of the marine environment in its original state. . In broad terms we believe they should be in the right place for the right reasons. However, the marine environment is ever changing and is not now, nor will it ever be, what it once was. All we can hope for is to improve conditions. The protection of biodiversity and the protection of unique or at-risk ecosystems are just two aspects in the overall management of the resource. Marine Reserves have a place in the suite of tools to responsibly manage our coastal and marine environment. However, a reserve is simply one of many tools we can currently use for this purpose.

  3.What we don't support in the Great Barrier Island marine reserve proposal
Great Barrier Island is of significant importance to all of Auckland's boating public. The proposed reserve off the northeast coast is widely recognised for its safe anchorages and fine fishing and diving opportunities. This part of the coast also forms an important part of the commercial rock lobster fishery for local fishermen and is fished within the sustainable management of the QMS.

We have no option but to oppose the proposal in its entirety. We do not feel DOC has presented appropriate evidence or provided the cost benefit analysis that would warrant a proposal of such magnitude.

We suggest that since much of the time it is not possible to get to the north-east side of the island because of weather conditions, that around Arid Island, out to approximately half way to Harataonga, would be more suitable for the proposed reserve. A reserve at Arid Island could include provision for the families currently living there to be able to fish for sustenance, with that privilege ceasing as their tenure comes to an end.

The Association welcomes the opportunity to make this submission and asks to be heard in support of it.

                               John Collyns
                               Executive Director