Mimiwhangata marine reserve proposal
Dissected by Dr J Floor Anthoni

Here is DoC's marine reserve proposal ('discussion document') in compact HTML (30 pages, 900MB), dissected by us.
The original document can be found on DoC's web site as six separate colourful PDF documents, totalling 1.2MB.


-- Seafriends home -- war index -- Rev 20040724,20040728,

Mimiwhangata Marine Reserve Proposal
Community Discussion Document, introduction
Department of Conservation - Te Papa Atawhai

The Department of Conservation and the Kaumatua of Te Uri O Hikihiki are proposing to create a Marine Reserve at Mimiwhangata. Mimiwhangata peninsula is located on the east coast of Northland, north of Whangarei, and is one of the most beautiful stretches of the Northland coastline.  It is currently designated as a Marine Park and is valued for spectacular scenery, wildlife and cultural heritage. The sea once teemed with life, including tuatua, kina, scallops, crayfish, mussels and numerous species of fish. In the last 30 years, biologists have been surveying the Mimiwhangata area and recorded more than 70 species of fish.

Damaged beauty or potential paradise?
Recent studies (from 2001 to 2004) indicate no real recovery of species abundance since the surveys of the 1970s and 1980s, and include some notable declines in abundance of certain species. The numbers of tuatua and oysters are greatly reduced in the Marine Park. Packhorse crayfish are now uncommon with no large individuals seen in recent surveys. Red crayfish numbers have stagnated with few large animals.
Despite the Marine Park being introduced in a bid to protect and restore the Mimiwhangata marine environment, fish abundance has not improved since the mid-1970s’ surveys.

The whole purpose of this marine park was not to optimise the environment but the pleasure one gets from gathering one's own seafood while being in a beautiful area. Management of the park has been very slack, as witnessed by the lack of appropriate signs at boat ramps. Many people who fish here, are not aware of regulations. With proper local management, the existing rules could have been tightened to achieve a higher degree of protection.
How did this happen?
There are a number of possible reasons why the Marine Park concept has not delivered positive results at Mimiwhangata. Marine Park rules allow selective recreational fishing and shellfish gathering.  It is possible that as the area became easier to get to, with improved road access and increased boating activities, growing pressures on fish stocks and shellfish numbers have taken their toll.
There exists no doubt that access to the sea has become more common-place, and this can be controlled. But because of its remoteness and exposure, fishing pressure in this area is rather low. However, Mimiwhangata has also suffered from immense degradation as the water's quality impoverished. But why are we discovering only today that there's less fish than anticipated?
Mimiwhangata can be fixed
It is possible with community and iwi support to re-create some of the magic it held “in the old days”. When given time and total protection, the sea’s natural processes can work to replenish damaged marine environments and depleted species. The most effective way to regenerate Mimiwhangata is to set up a fully protected Marine Reserve. Research shows that marine reserves truly work - heavily exploited marine species grow bigger and are more abundant in marine reserves.
The magic of the 'good old days' has disappeared along NZ's entire coastline due to a sudden increase in degradation from land-based run-off. The sea's natural processes can no longer return the marine environment to what it was in 'the good old days'. A fully protected marine reserve will not protect from the sea's main threat, although it could result in more fish. But is this what we want at the cost of no longer being able to fish? Scientists keep hammering the argument that marine reserves work because heavily exploited species recover, but there is overwhelming evidence that all other species are declining in ALL of our 17 coastal marine reserves. Are they blind? So far they have no evidence that marine reserves have been beneficial to all the other species. Why? Are we setting up marine reserves just to boost numbers of snapper and crayfish?
But marine reserves don't just bring back the fish and other marine life. They can also bring benefits to local people through economic and educational opportunities, and scientific studies in marine reserves increase our knowledge about how marine ecosystems work.
A policy of lock-up and hope? It is absolutely UNnecessary to have marine reserves in order to increase our knowledge of how marine ecosystems work. The sea is still so much in its original state (in unpolluted areas) that these are far more pristine than any national park on land. Furthermore, fishing has very little influence on the vast majority of species and thus the ecosystems they form. Have scientists forgotten to look there?

Have your say
Now is an opportunity to have your say on the Community discussion document  and a chance to turn the tide on Mimiwhangata's declining marine environment. We want to ensure that the views of the community are widely discussed (but not listened to) before a decision is made to prepare a formal application for a Marine Reserve.

Due to the size of the document we have separated the document into the following sections:

    * Marine reserve proposal and Historical splendour (PDF, 154K)
    * Damaged beauty or potential paradise (PDF, 105K)
    * Why protect Mimiwhangata? (PDF, 245K)
    * Marine reserves (PDF, 371K)
    * The Mimiwhangata proposal (PDF, 177K)
    * Community consultation - the next steps (PDF, 144K)

The complete text and images of the above PDF documents have been brought together in this HTML document, together with balancing analytic comments, maps and more photos ACTUALLY taken inside the Mimiwhangata Marine Park area..

For a hard-copy, contact our Mimiwhangata Call Centre on +64 9 459 7942 or email Mimiwhangata.

All submissions are due by the 12th of October 2004 and can either be emailed or posted to:

    Mimiwhangata Discussion Document,
    Department of Conservation,
    Northland Conservancy,
    PO Box 842,

Thank you for your interest and participation.

Marine Reserve Proposal
Mimiwhangata: Community discussion document
Department of conservation Te Papa Atawhai
Prepared by Dr Roger V Grace and Vincent C Kerr

The Department of Conservation (DoC), supported by Kaumatua of Te Uri O Hikihiki hapu, are proposing that a Marine Reserve be created at Mimiwhangata. Currently Mimiwhangata is a Marine Park, which allows for restricted fishing. The proposed Marine Reserve would cover the majority of the Marine Park, and would be extended to include the deepwater reefs adjoining the Marine Park. All disturbances, including fishing, would be prohibited in the Marine Reserve. This area contains a wide range of sea life. The purpose of this document is to inform the community and to ask for consideration, comment and participation.


1. Mimiwhangata -Historical Splendour
2. Damaged Beauty or Potential Paradise?
• Onshore
• Marine environment
• Mimiwhangata can be fixed
• The community can make it work
• Central government mandate
3. Why Protect Mimiwhangata?
• Why protect Mimiwhangata ’s marine environment?
• How damaged is Mimiwhangata ’s marine
• How did this happen?
• The proposed marine reserve option
4. Marine Reserves
• What is a marine reserve?
• How is it different from a marine park?
• Does the size of the marine reserve matter?
• Benefits inside the reserve boundary
• Benefits beyond the boundaries of marine reserves
• How quickly do marine reserves work?
5. The Mimiwhangata Proposal
• Proposed boundaries
• Proposed traditional management area
• How would a marine reserve support kaitiakitanga?
• Establishing a marine reserve: how the process works
• Who would manage the marine reserve?
• How will the community know if it is working?
6. Community Consultation -The Next Steps
• Key Questions
• What should we do now?
• What will happen next?
Marine Reserve Proposal Mimiwhangata: Community Discussion Document Compiled by V.C.Kerr and Dr R.V.Grace
Published by Northland Conservancy, Department of Conservation.
Northland Conservancy, PO Box 842, Whangarei, NZ.
Publication Date, 2004-07-12  ISBN:0-478-22540-7

Kaumatua Statement
The Statement of Houpeke Piripi, Kaumatua of Ngatiwai Iwi and the hapu of Te Uri O Hikihiki
November 12, 2003 English translation by Mere Piripi
“Ki te tangi a Tukaiaia, kei te moana a Ngatiwai e haere ana ”Ko tenei whakatauki, mo -te iwi o -Ngatiwai, he uri no -nga -tu -puna maha I noho ki te taha moana, I mohio ratou, ki nga -tauranga, nga -tapu, me nga -ma taitai o tenei wa -hi. Koianei te take, te korero I runga ake nei, “ko Ngatiwai” he tamariki no te moana. O ratou taniwha he ika, he mango, he whai, he kaahu, he tuatara. Ki ahau nei, kia kaha tatou ki te tiaki a tatou kai moana, aha koa he aha, na te mea kei te ngaro haere, hore kau e tino nui ana nga kai mataitai inaianei kaua e tukinotia. Kei memeha, kei ngaro.
Ki toku nei whakaaro, me whakatu he “Rahui Tapu”, mo nga tau rua tekau, rua tekau ma rima ranei, kia tipu ai he rimurimu hei whangai I nga ika nga kina paua me era atu kai mataitai o te moana. Hei aha? Hei whangai I o tatou uri kei te tipu ake. He moemoea tenei, mo tatou e Ngatiwai.
No reira, e nga uri, ara mai tatou ki te tautoko ite kaupapa I raro I nga manaatitanga maha a to tatou Matua I te Rangi.

“Ki te tangi a Tuka -iaia kei te moana a Ngatiwai e haere ana ” “When the Molly Hawk cries out at sea, Ngatiwai tribe is on the move at sea. When the Molly Hawk cries over the land, Ngatiwai move inland.”

This paragraph above is about the tribe of Ngatiwai who are descendants of their many ancestors who lived along the coastal areas, and who knew the sacred fishing grounds, and the seabed areas of shell fish, and who respected them.
We are children of the sea. We need to take care of our sea food, no matter what they are, because they are becoming very scarce or near to extinction, because of the shortage of food for them. Even rare species of fish are gradually disappearing. I myself feel that there should be a ban or a Rahui Tapu placed for at least twenty to twenty five years, to allow the sea weed to regenerate so the rare species of fish, crayfish etc. will return and grow, for our posterity to come.
This is a desire, a dream for us Ngatiwai, Auie! Let us go forth together to support this great project under the guiding influence of our Father in Heaven.
It is disrespectful that DoC has fed its valued partner with so much disinformation and deceit about what marine reserves actually do, that it has created expectations it cannot fulfill. Ngatiwae expects an area closure time of one generation, no longer than 25 years, but under the Marine Reserves Act this won't be possible. Again an expectation that DoC cannot honour. It would not be surprising therefore, and indeed honourable if Ngati Wai pulled out of the deal. - read on. 

'The Doctrine of Legitimate Expectations [as part of human rights] has established an institutional obligation to citizens [and governments]:
(i) to create an expectation is an empty gesture without a promise to fulfill it. Before creating an expectation, an organization must assure itself of its ability to fulfill the promise it implies, and that
(ii) if a government holds itself out to do something, even if not legally required to do so, it will be expected to act carefully and appropriately without negligence, and the citizens have the legitimate expectation that the government will discharge its obligations.'
(J. Russow, World Bank Environmental Communication study 2003)

1. Mimiwhangata Historical Splendour

Northland ’s coast once teemed with BIG fish. Old photographs show crayfish the size of small children, plentiful tuatua and mussels, and large fish in the shallows. Many people can still remember spectacular marine life as it once was. A reality 50 years ago, this view of the sea is only a fantasy for anyone looking at the coast right now. Crayfish rarely grow as large as a cat, and truly big fish are few and far between. However, if we fully protect areas of Northland, we can recreate some of the magical environment of years ago. If we do this, some of the experiences of our grandparents can be relived by our children and grandchildren when they visit the coast in years to come.

Yes, the reality of 50 years ago has not been reached by any of our existing coastal marine reserves and never will, as they degrade further from year to year, while losing both quantity and quality of life. They are unsustainable. Instead of evaluating the health of our existing reserves, DoC keeps spreading the message that we need more (of such failed reserves). Here too it is guided by a policy of lock up and hope.
This booklet describes what could happen if we work together, young and old, male and female, Maori and non-Maori, the general community, government departments, volunteers and employees, to protect a very special part of the Northland coast. Mimiwhangata, on the east coast 50 kilometres north of Whangarei, is a beautiful place, valued for its spectacular scenery, cultural heritage and history. It is a valuable place for people to visit the beach, surf, snorkel, boat, fish and relax. It is also ecologically important. The Marine Park and Coastal Farm Park contain many special habitats where a wide range of wildlife can be found.

In the 1960s the property was purchased by New Zealand Breweries. The company soon realised the area was a special part of New Zealand. It abandoned plans to build a resort in the area and set about turning Mimiwhangata into a park, both on and offshore, for all New Zealanders to enjoy.
In the 1970s, New Zealand Breweries commissioned scientific studies that revealed an exceptional diversity of Northland east coast near-shore habitats within the Mimiwhangata marine area (1).

There were concerns expressed in the reports that fishing pressures were increasing and would continue to threaten the ecology of the area if special protection measures were not put in place. In 1975 a trust was set up to administer the property and work towards creating a Coastal Farm Park and Marine Park. The Coastal Farm Park was opened in 1980. Over the next few years, the Government purchased the land known as the Coastal Farm Park, and a Marine Park was finally established in 1984. There was a vision that the Marine Park would preserve and enhance one of New Zealand ’s special environments for people to visit and enjoy.
New surveys of the Marine Park carried out during the past three years have shown that the Marine Park ’s environment has not recovered, and in some respects is in a worse state than in 1980 (2, 3, 4).
As the scientific investigation has progressed, members of the Mimiwhangata community, including tangata whenua/moana, local land owners, visitors, fishers, divers, scientists, environmentalists and the Department of Conservation (DoC) have begun to discuss “where to next ” for the area. This proposal aims to further this discussion in the community.

2. Damaged beauty or potential paradise?

Mimiwhangata is one of the most beautiful stretches of the Northland coastline. Above sea level the Mimiwhangata Coastal Farm Park stretches from Paparahi Point to Te Ruatahi. The land was once covered by coastal forest and was home to many unique plants, insects and birds including the endangered pateke (brown teal). Beyond the shoreline, Mimiwhangata Marine Park extends 1000 metres offshore. The sea once teemed with life, including tuatua, kina, scallops, crayfish, mussels and numerous species of fish. In the 30 years that biologists have been surveying the Mimiwhangata area, more than 70 species of fish have been recorded (5) . Subtropical species seldom found on the mainland coast are present at Mimiwhangata, including foxfish, combfish, spotted black grouper and tropical surgeonfish. Rare invertebrates such as ivory coral and the red-lined bubble shell are also found. What is rare, remains rare, with or without marine reserve and these species are not threatened by fishing.

From Left to Right: 1 . The North Island variable oystercatcher breeds in the sand dunes at Mimiwhangata. 2. The endangered pateke, or brown teal. 3. A rare subtropical, red-lined bubble shell.  4. Sponges and gorgonians are abundant on the deep reefs beyond the kelp forests. 5. Young tropical surgeonfish occasionally arrive at Mimiwhangata. None of these species are threatened by fishing.

Over the years the coastal forest was cleared for farming, removing the habitats of rare creatures like the pateke. In the past few years hundreds of people including tangata whenua, the Department of Conservation, neighbouring landowners, the Friends of Mimiwhangata group and volunteers from all over the world have worked to trap predators, cordon off special habitats and replant coastal trees on the land. The work is slow and  expensive, but progress is being made to restore Mimiwhangata onshore.

Marine environment
Since the 1950s Mimiwhangata ’s marine environment has been extensively fished. Anecdotal evidence up until the 1970s tells a story of significant decline in both the abundance and size of fish and shellfish. Traditional knowledge held by the local hapu covers a much longer time span and tells of a far greater degree of biodiversity decline.
Mimiwhangata has an extensive historical scientific record of its marine area, spanning the years 1972 to 1986 (1) . Recent studies (from 2001 to 2004) indicate no real recovery of species abundance since the surveys of the 1970s and 1980s, and include some notable declines in abundance of certain species. The numbers of tuatua and oysters are greatly reduced in the Marine Park. Packhorse crayfish are now uncommon with no large individuals seen in recent surveys. Red crayfish numbers have stagnated with few large animals. Despite the Marine Park being introduced, fish abundance has not improved since the mid-1970s’ surveys (2, 3).
Had the purpose of the marine park been to protect the environment, fishing would have been banned right from the beginning, but the park's purpose has always been that of enjoyment, for people to enjoy themselves on land and on the water, while being able to catch a fish. Although commercial fishing has been banned from the 20km2 park area, it will still leave its influence on fish densities inside the park, as most commercially fished species move about.
Comparisons of fish abundance inside the Mimiwhangata Marine Park with reference sites outside the Park, and with Marine Reserves in similar habitats such as Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Leigh), support the view that fish abundance in the Marine Park remains depressed by continued recreational fishing (4, 6). A major habitat change has occurred at Mimiwhangata where kelp forests have been dramatically reduced. This is a fundamental change, as the forests are so productive and important as nursery areas for many marine species. Kelp forest decline and the expansion of “kina barrens ” are effects now known to be largely influenced by the removal of predators of kina from the reef systems (7). At Mimiwhangata, large snapper and crayfish are the significant predators of kina. In natural balance, the snapper keep kina numbers and their impact on the kelp in check. Over time this balance has been lost. If the current rate of kelp forest decline were to continue, the shallow reef areas would become a sea-desert compared to its natural state.
It is sad that the authors again take refuge in the kina barrens hypothesis which has been firmly relegated to the land of myths. Read Science exposed for the whole analysis. In a nut shell, scientists made three cardinal mistakes: 1) They compared an exposed N-NE coasts inside marine reserves with a semi-sheltered W-SW coast outside marine reserves, deliberately choosing the only two reserves where habitat change had happened. 2) They did not look at the more suitable N-NE coasts of Kawau Island and Little Barrier Island, where the urchin barrens also disappeared, but these are not protected. 3) They ignored the more plausible explanation of degradation, even though massive degradation had happened just before their experiments: 1993 complete kelpbed death; around 1995 massive urchin mortality; 1998 near-complete crayfish walk-out. Scientifically speaking, they did not prove that the habitat changes were NOT caused by degradation. Their null-hypothesis was wrong, which also puts a large question mark over ALL marine research done in the past two decades. If your null-hypothesis is wrong, it invalidates all your work! What a mess!
Below Left: An aerial shot of Mimiwhangata.
Below Centre: Kina grazing the edge of the kelp forest, with a spotty above. Inside the MMP?
Below Right: Kina barrens are a long-term result of reductions in snapper and crayfish numbers.
Below Left: A diver in the 1970s examines a sponge at Mimiwhangata.
Below Centre: The New Zealand dotterel, considered 'at risk', is found at Mimiwhangata. Threatened by fishing?
Below Right: A fish’s view of a pohutukawa from a rock pool.

Mimiwhangata can be fixed
When given time and protection, the sea ’s natural processes can work to restore damaged marine environments and depleted species. Unfortunately, this is not a simple process. It must be noted that some human activities on land may be adversely affecting the Mimiwhangata marine environment through advanced erosion and sedimentation, although the extent of these effects are not yet fully understood. However, Mimiwhangata has the advantage of having an adjacent land conservation area, the Mimiwhangata Coastal Farm Park, which has a significant proportion of its catchments forested. 
Already for 14 years, Seafriends have been trying to get scientists interested in what has become the sea's major problem by far: degradation from land-based pollution. To say that these effects are not yet fully understood is an understatement, as scientists have not even begun to look! Please read our sections on soil and erosion in order to understand fully what is happening.
A fully forested catchment area would help water quality but pollution is dispersed far and wide by coastal currents. For instance, the catchment area of the Goat Island marine reserve is indeed very small but it did not protect the reserve from major degradation in the past 15 years.
If Mimiwhangata is designated a Marine Reserve, these two protected areas will benefit each other. This will also add to the impetus to reduce or control harmful land development in the area. Unlike land-based conservation projects that require fencing, replanting, breeding programmes and pest eradication, the recovery of some marine systems can succeed if people stop their extraction activities and control land-based pollution. An area is simply protected to allow the natural system to do its work. The most effective way to do this is to set up a fully protected Marine Reserve.
Research at the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Leigh) Marine Reserve on the east coast, north of Warkworth, and generally in Marine Reserves all over the world, has shown increased rates of regeneration and increases in fish size when fully protected Marine Reserves have been established in damaged areas (7, 8).
Oops. Because water does not flow uphill, the sea is profoundly influenced by the land but not the other way round. It is furthermore false to use a marine reserve to halt harmful development. If development is harmful, it must be prevented, with or without marine reserve.
Nature will only recover when ALL unnatural threats are taken away. By leaving pollution in the sea, this area WILL NOT RECOVER. It is a simple ecological law backed by evidence from 17 marine reserves in NZ. Marine reserves WILL NOT WORK where pollution remains. Scientists repeatedly confuse themselves and the public about what recovery is and means. They look at a few fished species and then draw conclusions for the whole ecosystem. Yes, fished species become more numerous when fishing stops, but it has nowhere been shown that this is also BETTER for the whole environment. When will scientists begin looking at all the other thousands of species that are fast disappearing?
From Left to Right: 1. Sponge gardens and goatfish are commonly found where the deep reef meets the sand.  2. Gorgonians and large cup sponges can often be found in the deep reefs beyond the kelp forest.  3. Abundant pink gorgonian fans.  4. Black coral tree and  sponges.   5. A jock stewart sits amongst the gorgonian fans. 
Are these threatened by fishing?
Photo provided by Seafriends
Most urchin barrens of Mimiwhangata are not devoid of life but contain a large and productive variety of species. Where kina abound, they are culled by people, which keeps their numbers down, one would think. But populations often respond favourably to modest exploitation.
Photo provided by Seafriends
A large predatory seven-armed star (Astrostole scabra)  hunting for kina as the two on left are still outrunning it. As some urchin predators are removed by fishers, one would think that others like this starfish would increase their numbers. They do not. Why?
Photo provided by Seafriends
A large organ sponge (Calyspongia sp) died from pollution as have most of the others we encountered. See also the photo above showing a dead organ sponge.
Photo provided by Seafriends
This sheltered wall is studded with stick bryozoa, all suffocating in mud and exhibiting poor condition. Soon it is curtains for all.

The community can make it work
To realise the potential benefits of protection, Marine Reserves depend very heavily on local involvement and compliance to a simple set of  rules. Good compliance is critical to the success of any reserve. The rules must be simple and understandable and supported by legislation. Typically, enforcement is greatly enhanced by the commitment and presence of local people and fishers watching for people breaking the rules in “their ” reserves. Ultimately the local community has the most to gain from the reserve in terms of any economic opportunities, and enjoyment resulting from the recovery of their local marine ecosystem. But the enjoyment of fishing is lost.
These statements are designed to mislead. Yes, local management is important to success, but why then is none of our existing marine reserves managed this way? Rules do not need to be as simple as no-take because fishermen are used to a set of more complicated rules and will comply provided they are well advised by signs and education and provided they make sense. People have always been enjoying economic opportunities, those of fishing. The last sentence infers that a no-take marine reserve will provide more economic opportunities to dive operators and glassbottom boats but these have not eventuated in MOST of our marine reserves. It all depends on clear water and easy access. Unfortunately, such benefits often go to distant non-local operators. Has DoC weighed the lost costs against perceived gains for future generations? Why not? Surely, there must be very good reasons to lock up a natural fish factory?

Central Government mandate
Under New Zealand ’s Biodiversity Strategy (9), central government has a commitment to achieve a system of marine protected areas in New Zealand, in which fully protected Marine Reserves will play a major role. Through the Biodiversity Strategy, specific funding has been allocated for the establishment and management of Marine Reserves. A Marine Reserve at Mimiwhangata, after completing all required legislative tests set out in the Marine Reserves Act 1971, would be eligible for this funding, establishing the potential for effective management and enforcement in conservation.
Let there be no misunderstanding! DoC does NOT have a mandate from the NZ public! What it refers to is an entirely undemocratic and unconstitutional process which has two aspects. Firstly the biodiversity strategy came from an undemocratic  and unconstitutional conference of the United Nations, visited by green scientists who made recommendations. Once NZ became a signatory, we suddenly had the international obligation to implement its recommendations of locking up 20-50% of the sea. But the public has never voted for it. To make matters worse, it is also flawed by assuming that fully no-take marine reserves are the only way to achieve environmental protection of biodiversity. But biodiversity is about viable populations of all species, not necessarily unexploited ones. Unexploited populations simply do not exist in nature. Then finally, the Green Party was given the nod for half its desire of locking up 20% of the sea, a kind of horse-trading deal. There exists no NZ law backing the 10% or the network or any more reserves than strictly necessary for doing research! DoC may refer to the Marine Reserves Bill now before Parliament, but this selfish, poorly crafted law kindled so much fury and adverse reaction that it will never pass. By now it has been postponed for so long that it must be re-done. To make matters worse, it is DOA (Dead On Arrival) since it would lock NZ into a dead end. Read the war introduction for more detail. The only mandate DoC can get for this proposal, is overwhelming public support. Should that fail, the mandate also fails.
Reader please note that Cabinet makes day to day decisions that are not voted on. However, those that affect many people (1 million fishermen, 1000 unemployed, $100M per year) while taking their birth rights away, must not be left decided in such small committee.
Mimiwhangata Marine Park is an area that is pleasant to visit and to fish in. As a result, it may be more heavily fished than other coastal areas, possibly creating the opposite result to that intended. Allowing for selective fishing methods may encourage people to fish even more in the Marine Park, because there may be a perception amongst fishers that fish will be larger and more plentiful under the partial protection rules of the Marine Park.
The most important features of the MMP are its sandy beaches and islands. Visiting boats can always find a sheltered spot to anchor and fish while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Fishermen find out very quickly whether it is worth their while to fish inside the MMP.

3. Why protect Mimiwhangata?
The marine environment is a mosaic of different habitats that fit together like puzzle pieces. Each one of these habitats, whether beach, sand flats, kelp forest, rocky shore or sponge garden, plays its own part in keeping the whole marine environment healthy. Each habitat is home to a different set of plants and animals. 
For example, cockles and tuatua thrive on sandy beaches while paua and mussels live in rocky places that are washed by ocean waves. These different habitats often work together. Estuaries and shallow rocky reefs serve as nursery habitats for many species of ocean fish.
Most marine animals use more than one habitat during their lives, making each habitat important for survival. Marine Reserves should ideally include several different types of habitat to allow sea life to move between habitats while remaining protected. True.
Below Left: The kina barren habitat will diminish over time as snapper and crayfish numbers rebuild.
Below Centre: A scene beneath a healthy Ecklonia forest.
Below Right: 4-metre tall forests of tangle-kelp are found in sheltered rocky areas.
Were these photos taken inside the MMP? It does not seem so.
From Left to Right: 1. Sunrise over Okupe Beach.  2. Red moki, one of the large reef fish, can reach 60 years of age.  3. A number of scientific studies have been completed at Mimiwhangata over the last thirty years, measuring the changes to the environment.

Why protect Mimiwhangata ’s marine environment?
Mimiwhangata has a special environment. In the 1970s, scientific studies revealed that Mimiwhangata contained examples of almost every shallow marine habitat on Northland ’s eastern coast (1). Recent studies (10, 11) have examined the deeper areas offshore. These habitat survey results are shown on the map in the centre of this document.

The deep reefs off Rimariki Island extend 3.5 kilometres to the east, and are up to 100 metres deep. The centre of this reef area is highly broken, with gulleys, crevices and protruding rock in excess of 5 metres high. At 33-37 metres in depth, the reef community makes a dramatic transition to a community dominated by filter feeding invertebrates. Beyond this depth, the kelp forests of the shallow reef areas no longer grow due to lack of light. Soft corals and sponges dominate this deep reef invertebrate community.

In biological terms, this deep reef habitat is very rich in both diversity and abundance. Known as “high-relief deep reefs ”, the contour of this habitat is especially complex, consisting of gulleys and pinnacles averaging three metres or more in height (see habitat map). The physical complexity of this reef system (and the passing currents) increases the diversity and abundance of the reef. Surrounding it are large areas of low-relief reef and patch reef areas, where reefs are broken by sand and cobble bottom. This reef system is considered to be representative of northeast coast near-shore reef systems, to a depth of 100 metres.
To the north and south, the areas of patch reef change to sand areas. Mimiwhangata is already highly valued as an ecological, cultural and recreational area. If it is fully protected, many people from all over Northland, New Zealand and the world will be able to experience and treasure this varied marine environment in a natural, thriving state. If you are also able to stop degradation which has accelerated steeply over the past 15 years, and also facilitate access, but who will be able to experience anything found deeper than 30m outside the present boundaries?
Mimiwhangata is a well studied part of New Zealand ’s coastline, which complements other east coast areas where extensive study has taken place e.g. Poor Knights Islands, Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Leigh) Marine Reserve. Scientists have been surveying Mimiwhangata over a 30 year period. People have fished there for centuries and a lot is known about the area. If Mimiwhangata is designated as a Marine Reserve, it will be possible to study how well and how quickly the recovery takes place. Do we really need yet another study whether marine reserves do work? We already have so much failed research that taught us nothing about the environment.
Mimiwhangata will add a valuable array of protected habitats to an emerging network of protected areas along the northeast coast of New Zealand. This will be useful in many ways. It will allow people to understand and experience a coastal environment in a near-natural state. It will also provide much needed information about the marine ecosystem to guide management decisions for the whole coast. We have wasted 15 valuable years doing nothing about marine degradation. How many years before effective management decisions are made? The knowledge is there, all brought together on the Seafriends web site. The problem with Mimiwhangata is that it is of little value for marine research because it is special, unlike the more representative stretches of coast. It is there that scientists must clamour for their marine reserves. Furthermore, it is highly questionable whether marine research done with Baited Underwater Video will have any relevance to the management of our coasts and fisheries!

Mimiwhangata has a special environment,
containing examples of almost every shallow marine habitat on Northland ’s eastern coast.

From Left to Right: 1. A packhorse crayfish with a group of smaller red crayfish.  2. A leatherjacket nibbles at sponges on a rock wall.  3. This spotted black grouper lived in a particular hole at Mimiwhangata for approximately five years. Why has it gone?  4. Porae are frequently found where the sand meets the rocks. Inside the MMP?

How damaged is Mimiwhangata ’s marine environment?
To answer this question, DoC has been studying and measuring changes in individual (fished) species, and changes to the Mimiwhangata habitat over time (2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11) . Some of these changes are believed to be primarily a result of fishing impacts, while others are a result of natural changes or other factors which are not yet fully understood.

Changes due to fishing impacts
Packhorse crayfish numbers declined in the 1970s and 1980s. They are now very hard, if not impossible, to find in the Marine Park. The numbers have fallen despite commercial taking of packhorse crayfish from the Marine Park being banned in 1994. There were some significant increases of young red crayfish in the 1970s. Scientists thought this would result in adult crayfish numbers increasing as the young crayfish aged and the Marine Park system reduced fishing, but this did not occur. Red crayfish numbers have remained much the same during the past 20 years with no significant increase in the number of larger crayfish. It appears that the current level of crayfish taken by recreational divers in the Marine Park is enough to keep the crayfish numbers consistently low in the shallow reef areas. Packhorse crayfish have not returned to any of our other marine reserves, including the Poor Knights and Goat Island. For crayfish to return, there must also be suitable crayfish habitat, which is not the case in the MMP, as it is also lacking from Tawharanui.

Prior to the 1970s large snapper were frequently seen and caught at Mimiwhangata. Anecdotal reports from this period suggest that commercial trawling, long lining and set netting were gradually reducing the numbers (12). Commercial fishing ceased in the Marine Park in 1993. In recent surveys, young snapper have been infrequently seen at Mimiwhangata, but there are few older, large snapper. In a 2002 survey, it was found that Mimiwhangata had fewer and smaller snapper than Cape Brett, the Mokohinau Islands and the Poor Knights Islands. There was also no significant difference in snapper numbers between the areas inside the Mimiwhangata Marine Park, and reference sites outside but near the Marine Park. Preliminary comparison of data from historic sample areas within the Marine Park shows little change in the abundance of reef fish. Analysis of the latest survey data is currently in progress.

Kelp forests
There are some spectacular examples around Mimiwhangata of kelp forest decline. For example, at Pa Point in 1976 there was a lush, tall, dense forest of kelp. By the early 1980s the extent of the forested areas was decreasing, and by summer 1986 (and continuing to 2003), only sparse remnants of the kelp forest remained. This change is influenced by an increase in kina, which feed on the kelp forest.  This increase may occur because the predators of kina, such as large snapper and crayfish, are now less common in the shallow reef areas. As a result, the kina have drastically increased in number, impacting on the kelp and creating areas which are now commonly referred to as “kina barrens ”. This is a major habitat change to a less productive state, with possibly serious ecological impacts. Again, the urchin barrens myth. Where is the data measuring kina densities? Other factors which may affect the kelp forest growth and decline are storms, algae blooms and variations in ocean temperatures (and primarily degradation). (Please see photos top of page 10).

Photo provided by Seafriends
There is something else happening to the kelp forests in a wide region ranging from Great Barrier to Cavalli Islands. The above photo, taken at Arid Island NE Great Barrier Island, shows how the kelp forest diminishes in the absence of kina, as it is replaced by turfing coralline algae. This is caused by a chronic lack of light due to murky waters, one aspect of degradation.

Changes due to natural or other causes
Noticeable now at Pa Point are increased silt deposits, starfish species in abundance, and significant invasion of the exotic parchment worm which smothers the indigenous encrusting reef life. These are all very strong indicators of degradation, as is the demise of tuatua shellfish beds.

Rock oysters have almost died out in parts of the Marine Park. This could be due to natural causes which are not fully understood, but the decline may have been hastened by significant harvesting in the 1981-82 summer, and may be due to Pacific oysters arriving in the area in the late 1970s.

Tuatua numbers fell from beds of 10 million small tuatua in the 1970s to around 800, 000 middle-sized to large tuatua in the 1980s and since then they have almost disappeared. In recent years, tuatua have been hard to find on Mimiwhangata Beach, although occasional individual tuatua are found on all the sandy beaches in the area. The natural fluctuations and various causes for these fluctuations of tuatua populations are not well understood, therefore the dramatic changes measured at Mimiwhangata over the last three decades may be due to natural causes, as opposed to human harvesting. Note that the shellfish of Cheltenham Beach (Takapuna, Auckland) are not coming back, even after a prolonged period of protection. Why?

Small numbers of large scallops (e.g.. 120mm) were often found in the coarse sand sediments between Rimariki Island and the mainland in the 1970s’ surveys. These rapidly declined and were not found in the 1980s surveys. More recently (March 2004), scallops were reported washed up in considerable numbers on Mimiwhangata Beach after a very large northeasterly swell event, indicating there are still some scallop beds remaining in Mimiwhangata Bay. No other information on scallops was gathered in the 2001-2004 surveys. The impact of human activity on scallop populations at Mimiwhangata is unclear.

From Left to Right: 1. Rock oysters have become less common at Mimiwhangata.  2. Tangle weed kelp. Healthy kelp forests such as this are now less common at Mimiwhangata.  3. In this aerial shot, the dark patches are kelp forest, while the light-coloured areas of rock are areas of “kina barren”. 
From Left to Right: 1. Tuatua underwater at Mimiwhangata beach.  2. A sample of tuatua surveyed on Mimiwhangata beach in the 1970s.  3. This scene is typical of a "kina barren", where kelp forests are eaten by the increasing number of kina. Taken in the MMP?
The tangle weed or flexible weed (Carpophyllum flexuosum) is repeatedly mentioned as if the writers are unfamiliar with its ecology. This seaweed belongs to sheltered waters and survives in rather degraded conditions. However, along exposed coasts where it does not belong, it may occasionally be found in stunted form after a long absence of storms. For the MMP, tangle weed is a non-event.
Left: This 1950 aerial photo shows lush dark-coloured tangle kelp forest around the reef off Pa Point.
Right: The same area in 2003 shows dramatic reduction of kelp cover and its replacement by pale-coloured “kina barrens”. It is dangerous to compare photos of unequal quality. Tangle kelp does not belong to an exposed coast. Besides, urchin barrens come and go, particularly where the sand is shallow as in this example. Refer to the habitat map to see for yourself that the urchin barrens are but a small part of the kelp zone and a very small part of the total MMP.


Ecological Connections
From Left to Right: 1. A red crayfish lurking under a rocky ledge.  2. Snapper eat small kina. Remove too many snapper and the kina multiply.  3. The tangle-kelp, Carpophyllum flexuosum , was once abundant at Pa Point.  4. The common kelp, Ecklonia radiata , forms extensive forests at Mimiwhangata, but has been reduced in the shallow part of its range by grazing kina.  5. Large numbers of kina damage the kelp forests. This imbalance may be corrected in a marine reserve. Please state where these photos were taken.
Reader, the photo of the snapper escaping with a kina was taken at  Goat Island by Dr Floor Anthoni on 25 Feb 2000. DoC 'used' it for no remuneration, no permission, no acknowledgment. How much deeper can it sink?
How did this happen?
The threat of over-fishing along Northland ’s eastern coast has been discussed by Northlanders since the 1950s. Each decade has brought renewed concerns over visible reductions in numbers of crayfish, snapper, trevally and hapuku from nearby coastal reefs. At Mimiwhangata, discussion documents from the 1970s describe heavy commercial fishing pressure on this part of the coast. 

Some accounts describe pair trawlers operating in Mimiwhangata Bay (12). As a result, the marine environment was starting to show significant decline. The Marine Park was established in a bid to protect and restore the Mimiwhangata marine environment. There are a number of possible reasons why the Marine Park concept has not delivered positive results at Mimiwhangata. These reasons may have resulted from the environment responding differently than expected, may involve changes in human impacts over the time period or possibly combinations of both. Examples of possible reasons include:

Mimiwhangata Marine Park is an area that is pleasant to visit and to fish in. As a result, it may be more heavily fished than other coastal areas, possibly creating the opposite result to that intended. Allowing for selective fishing methods may encourage people to fish even more in the Marine Park, because there may be a perception amongst fishers that fish will be larger and more plentiful under the partial protection rules of the Marine Park.
The proposed marine reserve option
It is possible with community and iwi support to establish a fully protected conservation area at Mimiwhangata by establishing a Marine Reserve. The Marine Reserve option at Mimiwhangata represents a change in objectives, from a combined fishery and conservation objective, to an objective that is solely focused on protecting the area in as natural a state as possible, for study and enjoyment of the community. The Marine Reserve concept makes use of a simple management rule that is easy for people to understand.

4. Marine reserves
What is a Marine Reserve?
Marine Reserves are the “national parks” of the sea, where underwater features and marine life enjoy complete protection. Their legal purpose is to protect areas of New Zealand that contain underwater scenery, natural features or marine life, of such distinctive quality or so typical or beautiful or unique, that their continued preservation is in the national interest. 
Because much of our underwater environment has been altered by human activities, we need to protect parts of the sea that closely represent examples of what was originally there. Within a Marine Reserve, marine life is left to recover and flourish in its natural state - for its own sake and for future generations to study and appreciate. It provides a rich environment teeming with hundreds of species of sea life.
This provides a safe breeding environment that has the potential, in time, to increase the quantity and quality of marine life available outside the reserve. As with national parks, people are encouraged to visit, explore and learn from Marine Reserves. Most Mimiwhangata locals know that the area is not as bountiful now as it was in “the old days”. A Marine Reserve may help recovery of the marine environment and species, and protect marine life for the benefit of present and future generations.

Again a long paragraph aimed to deceive. To make comparisons between terrestrial national parks and the sea is meaningless. Not just because the sea is an entirely different environment, but also because our national parks cover the wastelands and they are still teeming with introduced pest, offering little protection to our sensitive native species, many of which have no hope of salvation. On land we have changed over 80% permanently and irreversibly so. And global climate change is still to wreak havoc there.
By contrast, the sea is productive everywhere and accessible too. It is least disturbed because we don't live there, farm the sea bottom, build motorways and so on. Locking parts of the sea up means also forfeiting benefits to future generations. In a civil society this is not done when the disadvantages outweigh the benefits, which is the case with most of our marine reserves so far. Worse still, those promoting such reserves have not even taken the trouble of evaluating assets versus liabilities, which is disrespectful.
One can take offence with the purism expressed by pro-reserve lobbyists who apply one standard for the land and a much more stringent standard for the sea. The reality is that this planet has been swamped by 6,000,000,000 individuals of our kind, far more than any other species of even half our size, and this will almost double within 30 years. Where people tread, nature yields. A new nature emerges capable of our abuse and also exploiting us. Something likewise happens in the sea. A new nature, which in the sea is not radically different to what in our minds is the pristine situation. The good old days cannot come back, however hard we try, and in the face of rampantly accelerating pollution, is now further away than it ever was.
If we truly want to save the sea, rather than building empires of networks of unnatural enclaves, we must focus on the sea's number one threat, that of land-based degradation, and must manage our fishing with larger stocks. These measures will do far more than marine reserves ever will. Only by saving the land can we save the sea!
So many people make much ado about the environmental damage caused by fishing and trawling but why is it then that marine environments recover so quickly after fishing stops? The answer must be found from understanding how the food pyramid works, see the diagram on right. By far the largest amount of food is made by phytoplankton, which from necessity cannot grow even as large as visible specks in the sea but we can observe it as mist. Tiny animals in the zoo plankton however, feast on it, grazing the plant matter and converting its solar energy into larger parcels (themselves). These in turn are eaten by larger animals like fish larvae, which in turn are eaten by bait fish until finally the table fish consume them. It explains why marine creatures produce so much spawn, 99.999% for making food, rather than procreation. Note that each higher tier is very much smaller in biomass than the one beneath, due to losses in energy and wastes. Fishing now consists of taking a bite from the very top tiers, which amounts to only a very small bite from the whole. By contrast, degradation takes a bite from the bottom tiers, thereby profoundly affecting all tiers above. This has made degradation the largest threat by far. The bottom line is that a ban on fishing has very little effect on the whole ecosystem and it explains why all of our marine reserves are performing so badly. Do we need more failed marine reserves? Obviously a moratorium on marine reserves is needed in order to be able to iron out all myths and fallacies and to be able to do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time. We owe it to our children.

How is it different from a Marine Park?
Mimiwhangata Marine Park was set up under fisheries regulations and a Grant of Control under the former Harbours Act, which was superseded by the Resource Management Act 1991. In simple terms Marine Parks are a set of agreed rules for activities (normally fishing) in a defined area. Mimiwhangata has allowed limited fishing. In contrast, Tawharanui Marine Park does not. Tawharanui demonstrates that full and permanent no-take protection is easily done under the Fisheries Act.

The current Mimiwhangata partial protection rules under the Fisheries Regulations are summarised on page 14.

Fin fish Barracouta
Billfish (all types)
Blue maomao
Flounder (all types)
Grey mullet
Mackerel (all types)
Piper (garfish)
Shark (all types)
Tuna (all types)
Yellow eye mullet
Shellfish Common kina
Green-lipped mussel
Rock lobster
Other species: All other species of finfish, shellfish and other marine life are totally protected.

By contrast, Marine Reserves are “no-take” zones, focused on preservation of marine habitats and life for scientific study. The clear and simple no-take rule makes Marine Reserves easier to monitor and enforce, both through community action and legal action if necessary. There is recent evidence based on research at the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, that conservation outcomes are more significant in a Marine Reserve than in a partially protected area (13).

Oops, poppycock! Let's now check out the situation at the Poor Knights Islands where fishing was stopped altogether in the beginning of 1999. DoC paid a whopping $283,000 for a study to demonstrate that marine reserves work. Snapper numbers indeed increased, but not mentioned in the report (14) were far more important results shown here.
The graph shows fish density vertically and years horizontally. Scientists essentially counted fish numbers in a transect the size of a tennis court. What is significant is that these fish are not the migrants or weirdos but common fish that belong and breed there. As you can see, all species tell the tale of chronic decline due to degradation. But sweep, which does not belong in the clear waters of the Poor Knights, suddenly became common, replacing the more sensitive blue maomao (not measured!!!), which is a sure indicator of degradation.

Does the size of the Marine Reserve matter?
The “best” size for a Marine Reserve depends on what you are trying to protect or study. For some species, a very small Marine Reserve may be enough to protect a local population. For species that travel or migrate, a very large Marine Reserve may be required to be effective. Some very mobile species may only take up temporary residence within a Marine Reserve. However, the positive benefits of the Marine Reserve may be increased if the period of the species’ life cycle spent in a reserve, is a critical portion of its life (e.g. spawning). Research on the movement of snapper in and out of Marine Reserves has indicated that fishing for snapper just outside Marine Reserve boundaries affects numbers in the reserve. Indeed, marine reserves must also provide for large feeding grounds in deeper water and spawning grounds too.
Fishing causes species, such as snapper, to be generally less abundant closer to the edges of reserves, as compared to the centre of the reserve. For example research at Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Leigh) shows reduced snapper numbers near the edges of the five kilometre-long reserve. A bigger reserve reduces this effect (14, 15, 16).
Fishing outside a marine reserve reduces numbers of species like snapper inside the edge of the reserve. In larger marine reserves the “edge effect” is a much smaller proportion of the total area.

The illustration above shows a possible model of the “edge effect” close to the Marine Reserve boundary. Larger Marine Reserves enable a wider range of habitats to be protected. The Mimiwhangata area is rich in habitat diversity. The largest possible area under protection will allow for more of these habitats to function fully and have a greater potential contribution to the overall coastal system. Larger overall size will minimise effects from fishing at the edges of the reserve, and would potentially add more diversity and more marine habitats to the network of marine protected areas in northeast New Zealand.
Benefits inside the reserve boundary
When a no-take area is established, it assists recovery of the environment to a state which is more comparable to its condition before it started to decline. Recovering habitats become nurseries (kohanga) in which the sea life grows bigger, more plentiful and varied than in surrounding fished areas. Bigger animals produce substantially more young. When more young are produced, they may drift or swim into the surrounding areas.

Another paragraph to deceive more gullible people. As we have shown extensively before and on the Seafriends web site, our coastal seas CANNOT return to their condition before their decline unless we clean up the water by saving the land. Make no mistake about this. None of our coastal marine reserves have produced more and bigger sea life (some fished species, yes) and more varied because they are all degrading. This can easily be verified, but the fact is that DoC does not make funds available to do so. Business people know that what is not measured, is not managed, and they can therefore rightfully accuse DoC of poor management, because it does not know whether our marine reserves are getting better or worse. To make matters worse still, DoC is spreading the FALSE expectation that they do, insisting on MORE FAILED RESERVES everywhere. How can common-sense justify this?
Although it can be demonstrated that in marine reserves the fished resident species produce more spawn, this bears no relationship with the number of recruits produced elsewhere. Fish spawn prolifically to make food (99.999%), rather than offspring (0.001%).

Sea Life Increases Dramatically
Studies of more than 80 Marine Reserves all over the world have shown that the average weight of exploited species is more than four times greater in reserves than in unprotected areas nearby. The average number of animals in an area triples, and the number of species is 1.7 times higher in Marine Reserves than in unprotected areas. 
The average body size of animals is 1.8 times larger in reserves than in fished areas. These findings include not just fished species but other plants, invertebrates and fish (8). In most cases, studies of changes in Marine Reserves established in New Zealand show a similar pattern of large increases in the average size and numbers of exploited species accumulating in the reserve (7, 18, 19). At the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, snapper numbers have increased dramatically inside the Marine Reserve (17).
The most gullible of all are scientists themselves. The study referred to, lumped all marine reserves together and came up with a figure, without distinguishing those in heavily exploited tropical seas from well managed ones in temperate seas (NZ). When each of the examples is analysed separately, it becomes clear that by far most of the (fishery) benefits resulted from improved fisheries management and forced retirement. Read Myths2 for all the details and further references. It has furthermore been shown that most of the studies included in this report cannot be trusted for their robustness, in other words, they are poor science. Read Myths6 and Burdens of Evidence (260KB PDF) (15) for the whole story.

This chart shows the number of snapper sighted using a Baited Underwater Video (BUV), at sites within and outside three marine reserves around New Zealand in the same calendar year. As you can see, there is a large difference between the figures at each location (4, 15, 17). 
The graph presented here is derived from a DoC-funded study by Willis, Millar and Babcock (16). This study compared three marine reserves with reference areas nearby. Apart from the fact that all three reserves occupy special habitat, whereas the reference areas do not, the actual results do not look quite as shown above, as you can verify. Fig 2a counts all snapper, 3a legal size snapper and 3b sublegal size snapper. (2b represents cumulative biomass.) Apparently, DoC's chart refers to the most favourable result for legal sized snapper only, but even then it has taken only the most favourable point in  April1999. We ask ourselves whether this is a fair representation and if it is not, why do scientists debase themselves to this level? Why are other scientists not correcting this misrepresentation of facts, and why does DoC resort to such tactics? Another fact withheld is that marine reserves recover within one or two years for adult snapper, who migrate there from outside.

We also have serious doubts about the method used to count fish, the Baited Underwater Video (BUV) because it defies important scientific principles of measuring apparatus as it influences the quantity measured. In doing so, it exaggerates. The BUV method and all results obtained with it should be disqualified as scientific. Read science exposed.

Fig. 2. Mean reserve (filled symbols) and non-reserve (open symbols) snapper Pagrus auratus relative density at Leigh, Hahei and Tawharanui from November 1997 to April 1999. (a) Total numerical relative density, all size classes (MAXsna); (b) relative biomass.
Fig. 3. Mean reserve (filled symbols) and non-reserve (open symbols) snapper Pagrus auratus numerical relative density at Leigh, Hahei and Tawharanui from November 1997 to April 1999. (a) Fish > minimum legal size (LEGsna); (b) fish < minimum legal size (JUVsna).


This chart shows crayfish numbers within Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Leigh) Marine Reserve, compared to those outside the reserve. Natural fluctuations in crayfish numbers are likely to have caused the decline in 2000. Despite this drop, there is still a marked difference in numbers at each site (20, 21, 22). The crayfish walk-out in 1998 was caused by a prolonged period of spring rain storms, reducing the water's quality considerably. It is cynical to call this a natural fluctuation. Although two groups of scientists were working with crayfish at the time, and Floor Anthoni reported the loss of crayfish three times to the Marine Laboratory, scientists still don't know what had happened! Note that the graph covers a long period of high densities (1980 to1998= 18 years) followed by four years of much lower densities of mainly young crayfish. Why this misrepresentation? 
There appears to be an undue focus on snapper and crayfish to the detriment of those fish species that have actually enjoyed most protection. Where is their data?
Benefits beyond the boundaries of Marine Reserves
Marine Reserves frequently contain more sea life than surrounding waters do, so some animals may move outside the reserve to avoid competition for food and space (18). This is called “spillover” (19). Spillover increases as time passes and the sea life gets more crowded in protected areas
Different species spill over at different rates, depending on how mobile they are. Species that are attached to the sea floor, like mussels and other shellfish, do not migrate outside reserve boundaries but potentially export large volumes of larvae to coastal waters. Fish species that we think of as migratory may simply pass through reserves or stay temporarily.
Experience however has also shown that there are many surprises with Marine Reserves. For example, at the Poor Knights Islands and at the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Leigh) Marine Reserve, snapper have displayed residential and semi-residential behaviours to a surprising degree (7) [true]. This leads to the conclusion that Marine Reserves offer the best opportunity to understand the natural behaviour of fish, and in particular of old large fish, as their numbers are so depleted in fished coastal reefs [false].
Again an attempt to deceive. More sea life above, means more of some fished species. In a working marine reserve, however, the total amount of sea life diminishes rather than increases, because the larger predators (and grazers) need to be fed. In the process some 70-90% of what they eat is wasted. Thus also the total spawn mass from a successful marine reserve becomes less than from its surroundings. Protagonists often claim that spillover benefits fisheries, but forget to mention the lost fishery inside a marine reserve. Practical studies have shown conclusively that spillover is substantially less than the lost fishery, which stands to reason, as one does not wish the breeding stocks to spill out.
Scientists seem surprised about residential behaviour of migrant species. They seem unaware that the sea has hot spots where fish like to be, and once their numbers increase, these attract more fish. Goat Island, jutting out into clearer water and currents, offering shelter while close to feeding grounds, is such a place. Islands are so too. It so happens that most of the marine reserves (I think ALL) are located in special places, so observations in such reserves must be interpreted with care. However, protagonist scientists do not take such care, to the extent that no marine science done in NZ can be taken seriously any longer. This is an important message for the public! Distrust everything scientists say, as substantiated by these rebuttals.

How quickly do Marine Reserves work?
The recovery speed for marine environments varies depending on how quickly sea life normally grows in the area. Some animals grow quickly, mature at an early age and produce large numbers of young. These animals, such as scallops and mussels, may multiply rapidly after protection, sometimes increasing significantly within a year or two. [true]
Other animals grow slowly and mature later in life. These species, such as hapuku, some reef species, and the large old individuals of faster growing species, may take many years or even decades to increase noticeably in a reserve. All these changes contribute to ‘food webs’ and ecological interactions, which may require even longer time periods to realise the full range of benefits and rehabilitation [false].
When fishing stops, changes happen immediately. First fast, then more slowly until finally a kind of equilibrium is reached. It is therefore ecologically illogical to expect sudden changes at a late age. If hapuku, groupers, packhorse crays and others are expected to return, then their most decisive years will be the first years after which they only grow larger. Yet in none of our marine reserves this has happened. Obviously something is holding them back: degradation. For the last sentence, refer to the urchin barrens myth which has been destroyed decisively.


Below Left: A close-up view of a leatherjacket amongst lush sponges 
Upper left: The goatfish uses two barbels under the chin to search for worms and crustaceans in the sand.
Below Right: At the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Leigh) Marine Reserve, snapper of  legal size are 10-20 times more abundant than on the
unprotected coast. Hot spot?

Below Left: A crayfish peers at the camera.
Upper Left: Kina can be collected from Mimiwhangata Marine Park under the current regulations.
Below Right: Kingfish are a feature of Northland coastal waters. Photos from inside the MMP? We think not.


Below Left: Sponges and plankton-feeding demoiselles on the deep reef. Inside the MMP?
Below Centre: An aggregation of goatfish near a reef.
Below Right: A school of snapper peers at the camera at Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Leigh) Marine Reserve.

From Left to right: 1. Paua numbers are likely to increase in a Marine Reserve at Mimiwhangata.  2. The spikes on the legs of large red crayfish are used to crack kina.  3. Marine Reserves are the only place where divers can regularly see snapper at close range.  4. A selection of sea life, which lives buried in the sandy seabed.  5. A  large sponge and soft coral on the deep reef.

Below Left: Large old snapper are the best breeders and are only protected in marine reserves.
Upper Left: A nest of red crayfish at Leigh Marine Reserve
Below Right: Hapuku, once common in shallow water, are now thought of as deepwater fish. They may return to the shallows in a marine reserve. Has this happened anywhere?

Now have a look at photos actually taken inside the Mimiwhangata Marine Park, May 2003
Photos provided by Seafriends

In the shallows, fringing the exposed reefs, one finds the strap weed Lessonia which indicates this area's similarity to places like the Poor Knights. The strap weed thrives in strong wave action.
Stunted tangle weed on colourful urchin barrens. The tangle weed cannot grow tall because it is not strong enough, but its thin woody base discourages urchins from eating it. Notice the Sandager's wrasse which is an indicator of warm, clear water.

Where the rocky shore is deep enough (10-15m) and bordered by shallow sand, urchins gather at its base after being swept off. Then they attack the kelp forest from below as well as from the top, resulting in barren zones wider than usual. This is not a sign of degradation.
Along a vertical wall, the usual fauna has disappeared, but just this year a crop of soft corals or deadman's fingers (Alcyonaria sp) popped up, their transparent polyps glowing in the blue light. Finding a crop of individuals of the same age while other age classes are absent, is a sign of decay.

Only in a few small places, dominated by shelter and strong currents, finds one remnants of what once lived here profusely and even these communities have changed already.
In sheltered places one finds the strongest indicators of decay, like this steep rock face smothered in sticky dust, which has killed all life except for some hardy cup corals. Note that the dust does not even show trails of grazers.

5. The Mimiwhangata Proposal

Proposed boundaries
At this stage two options for the boundary of the proposed reserve have been put forward by the biological survey team, representatives of tangata whenua and Department of Conservation staff.  These are outlined on the enclosed map. A considerable body of information on the marine habitats of Mimiwhangata has been collected and is still being analysed. [Why have the largest stakeholder groups, those who are expected to make a sacrifice, the fishermen, been excluded from discussions? Is this real consultation?]

The area investigated extends approximately four kilometres offshore and includes significant areas of reef and soft-bottom habitat beyond the current one kilometre Marine Park boundary. The proposed boundaries attempt to include all the major habitats at Mimiwhangata in one reserve. This includes the sand areas to the north and south of the main deep reef.
These soft-bottom habitats have a very different range of invertebrate communities, as compared to the reef habitats, and are also important feeding areas for large mobile predatory species. It is important to include these soft-bottom and sand areas around reef edges, as many marine organisms periodically move out from reef habitats to these sand areas. These boundary designs will allow for maximum protection of biodiversity, and for organisms to move freely between habitats at different stages of their life cycle, benefiting from full protection. [true]
This information is summarised on the double page insert map (below) and on the questionnaire. You are invited to comment on the proposed boundaries and how they might affect you. The technical reports supporting this information are listed as footnotes throughout this proposal and can be requested along with reports now in progress (as they become available), from the Department of Conservation ’s Northland Conservancy Office, P O Box 842, Whangarei. [The present size of the marine reserve is 20km2, about four times larger than Goat Island's. The proposed area extends this to either 70 or 100km2]

Proposed traditional management area
In preparing this proposal, discussions were held with hapu representatives. Kaumatua and Kuia from the Mokau area (adjacent to the western end of the proposed Marine Reserve boundary) indicated a strong preference for having the area around Paparahi Point, which is currently within the Marine Park, excluded from the proposed Marine Reserve area. 
The Department of Conservation has taken this advice in formulating the proposed boundaries (see attached map). The hapu view is that this area has always been intensively used for kaimoana harvesting, and in modern times has become especially important as a recreational, subsistence and customary fishing area for both the hapu and the wider community. It was argued that the shelter, easy access and strong significance of the traditional use of this location, meant that this area would be better managed under a system different to the Marine Reserve.

Some of the objectives identified by the hapu for management of this area were:

Beyond the specific area of Paparahi Point and its reefs and islets, the hapu did not wish at this time to draw lines indicating the extent of the area they wished to focus on to develop traditional management practice. In their view the Paparahi Point area is simply one part of the entire rohe for which they are responsible as Kaitiaki. They also stated that they would be seeking to explore the extent to which provisions in the Fisheries Act could support their traditional management objectives, referring here to Mataitai and Taiapure areas as defined by fisheries regulations.

Notice how we'll end up with two different acts and two different bureaucracies managing the area? If it was all done under the Fisheries Act, it would be much simpler. The time has come to abolish the Marine Reserves Act altogether. It is an anomaly whose time has passed.

How would a Marine Reserve support kaitiakitanga?
Respected Ngatiwai and Mokau Kaumatua, Houpeke Piripi, has declared a rahui tapu at Mimiwhangata and supports the use of the Marine Reserves Act 1971 to restore the area. Houpeke and the Te Au O Morunga Marine Farm Trust have also proposed an adjacent traditional management area (see enclosed map). 
The hapu also saw it as an advantage to develop kaitiakitanga management of the Marine Reserve and of special areas surrounding the Marine Reserve identified by hapu and the Department of Conservation.
The Department of Conservation, in preparing this proposal, acknowledges the leadership and vision demonstrated by Houpeke and the other  Kaumatua and kuia involved in the investigation stage of this project. With their leadership and guidance, we will seek to take the kaupapa of this proposal to the wider tangata whenua community and Ngatiwai iwi.
Marine Reserves offer a mechanism for tangata whenua to be intimately involved in the long-term protection and recovery of special areas in their rohe. There are many concerns about the long-term impacts of increased fishing pressure on the marine environment. The Marine Reserve proposed at Mimiwhangata would create a refuge or nursery, where natural productivity could recover and support management efforts in the adjacent coastal areas.

The MRA1971 under which this proposal is sought, does not support kaitiakitanga. A marine park under the fisheries act would give the local communities a better and more flexible vehicle to manage their resources for the future.
Establishing a Marine Reserve:
How the process works
The process for establishing a marine reserve in New Zealand is set out in the Marine Reserve Act 1971, and is illustrated by the diagram at the top of the page (below). This proposal represents Step Four of this process, and is an informal discussion document which creates the opportunity for all interested parties to comment before it is advanced to a formal application stage (Step Six). 
It is important that every interested person or group now has a chance to have their say. Proposed boundaries have been presented and will be reassessed at the conclusion of this first round of informal public discussion. Any changes will be based on the submissions received, further consideration of the benefits of the proposal and any adverse effects that become apparent.

Following the three-month submission period for this proposal document, the Department of Conservation will analyse the feedback received, conduct further discussion and consider scientific information about the area. Then a set of boundaries may be proposed in a formal application (Step Six) for a Marine Reserve or the proposal may be abandoned altogether. The public would have the opportunity to make submissions on the application (Step Seven), as part of the statutory process.
Following the application period, there are several steps where the Minister of Conservation examines objections to the application, makes a decision and seeks concurrence from other Ministers.

The Marine Reserve Process (See also our more extensive process chart)
1. Define objectives and form a team
2. Initial consultation with interest and user groups
3. Site survey and investigation
4. Draft proposal formulated and released for public comment (We are here) 
  Overwhelming adverse reaction -> NO MANDATE, NO RESERVE
5. Prepare a formal application
6. Formal application is made to the Director-General of Conservation (DG)
7. Public notification of application
  Objections received
8. Applicant may answer objections 
9. DG forwards application, objections and answers to Minister of Conservation (MoC)
10. MoC considers objections - upholds objections -> NO RESERVE
   Does not uphold objections -> process continues
11. MoC seeks concurrence from Ministers of Fisheries and Transport and consent of a local authority sought if required.
   No concurrence/ consent -> NO RESERVE
   Concurrence/ Consent given -> process continues
12. MoC makes recommendation to Governor-General for an Order in Council
13. Marine Reserve order signed by Governor-General 
14. Marine reserve established. Marine reserve comes into force 28 days after notification in the NZ Gazette.

Who would manage the Marine Reserve?
The Department of Conservation is responsible for day-to-day management. The Marine Reserves Bill currently before Parliament provides for the possibility of advisory committees to be established to advise the Department of Conservation on management of a Marine Reserve. For example, day-to-day management could be taken over by community groups. A system of concessions in Marine Reserves is also proposed, which means the community could be fully involved in economic activity arising from the establishment of a Marine Reserve in future. It is important to note that the final provisions of the new Bill will not be known until it is passed in Parliament.
Oops. This is the first time that local day-to-day management is mentioned. Why else is none of our marine reserves managed this way? Let's not be fooled about so-called advisory committees which have been selected and groomed to yay-say to DoC and which have essentially only a honorary function. What we need is full local management by those who know the sea (fishermen), who also manage DoC's management budget. The system of concessions to fund local management is anathema to traditional freedom at sea and is used here as an unpalatable carrot.
It is important that everyone now has a chance to have their say. 
You can print the questionnaire stored in easy HTML format on our web site or go to the Option4 web site for a painless electronic submission which doesn't even require a stamp. But note carefully how this questionnaire has been structured with leading questions to achieve only one outcome: either your full support or an ineffective and disqualified opposition.

6. community consultation - the next steps

At this stage this proposal and discussion is proceeding under the existing Marine Reserves Act 1971. If the new Marine Reserves Bill is passed through parliament prior to a formal application for this proposal being lodged, the information and consultation will be reassessed as part of preparation of an application under the new Act. Please note our comments about the Marine Reserves Bill above.

How will the community know if it is working?
The environment at Mimiwhangata has been surveyed for three decades now, and this monitoring will continue. Management systems and community involvement in the reserve would help to publicise changes that occur there. People would continue diving, snorkelling and swimming in the area and would see the changes.

Key Questions
This document has described the way Marine Reserves restore marine environments. It provides information about Mimiwhangata and Marine Reserves, and an opportunity to discuss a Marine Reserve for Mimiwhangata.
The key questions are:

What should we do now?
This proposal is open for public submissions.

We want to ensure that the views of the community are widely discussed before a decision is made to prepare a formal application for a Marine Reserve. Therefore, we are seeking your views and comments on this proposal. The attached questionnaire gives you a chance to have your say. Please send replies by Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, to: 
Mimiwhangata  Consultation, Northland Conservancy, PO Box 842, Whangarei.
This document and the questionnaire are also available from:
www.doc.govt.nz/regional-info/001~northland/004~conservation/index.asp [follow link under this document's top heading]
Limited numbers of the CD-ROM version of this proposal, which includes photography and technical reports, are available from the Department Office on request.

What will happen next?
After further consultation with tangata whenua, fishers, interested groups and the Mimiwhangata community, and consideration of feedback on this discussion document, DoC may make a formal application to the Director-General of Conservation for a Marine Reserve or rejects the idea altogether. It is also possible that the tangata whenua may choose to be named as the applicant or be the joint applicants with the Department of Conservation. This is currently being discussed. Have Tangata Whenua been betrayed?

If an application is made, members of the public then have two months, from the time the application is notified, to make submissions. The Department is required to consider concerns expressed in submissions. The Minister of Conservation will make the final decision on the application which also requires concurrence from the Ministers of Fisheries and Transport.

Ministers of Fisheries and Transport.
Produced & edited by CPRetc Limited. Design by Aaron Moore* Design. This document is printed on recycled paper.
All photos by Roger Grace, except Page 1 V. Kerr ,  Page 4 (aerial photo) courtesy of Northland Regional Council and Page 13 (Leatherjacket) Warren Farrelly. Map work courtesy of Information Management Unit, Northland Conservancy.
Oops, Roger, one photo belongs to Floor Anthoni.

(1) Ballantine W.J., Grace R.V.&W.T.Doak (1973).Mimiwhangata Marine Report.Turbott &Halstead for New Zealand Breweries Ltd, Auckland.98p.
(2) Grace R.V.&Kerr V.C.(2002). Mimiwhangata Marine Park Draft Report 2002 -Historic Marine Monitoring Update. Report to Department of Conservation.
(3) Grace R.V.&Kerr V.C.(2003). Mimiwhangata marine monitoring programme, summer sampling 2003, update on historic monitoring. Report to Department of Conservation.

(4) Denny C.M.&Babcock R.C.(2002).Fish survey of the Mimiwhangata Marine Park, Northland. Report to the Department of Conservation. Leigh Marine Laboratory.
(5) Grace R.V.&Kerr V.C.(2003). A marine species list for Mimiwhangata 1973-2004. Report to Department of Conservation, Northland Conservancy.
(6) Usmar N.R., Denny C.M., Shears N.T.&R.C.Babcock (2003). Mimiwhangata Marine Park Monitoring Report 2003. Report to Department of Conservation, Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland.
(7) Shears N.T.&Babcock R.C.(2002). Marine reserves demonstrate top-down control of community structure on temperate reefs. Oecologia 132:131-142
(8) Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, 2002. The Science of Marine Reserves. http://www.piscoweb.org
(9) Department of Conservation et.al., 2000. New Zealand biodiversity strategy. NZ Govt Press. , 2000
(10) Kerr V.C.&Grace R.V.(2002). Mimiwhangata Deep Reef Survey Draft Report 2002. A report to the Department of Conservation.
(11) Kerr V.C.&Grace R.V.(2004). Habitat investigations of Mimiwhangata. Report in progress.
(12) Dart J., Drey B.&R.Grace (1984). Mimiwhangata Marine Park:Environmental Impact report. Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park Board.
(13) Denny C M & Babcock R C (2004). Do partial marine reserves protect reef fish assemblages? Biological Conservation 1 Vol 116.
(14) Denny C M, Willis T J, Babcock R C (2003) Effects of Poor Knights Islands marine reserve on demersal fish populations. DSIS 142, DoC.
(15) Williis T J, Millar R B, Babcock R C, Tolimieri N (2003) Burdens of evidence and the benefits of marine reserves: putting Descartes before des horse? Environmental Conservation 30:97-103.
(16) Willis T J, Millar R B, Babcock R C (2003): Protection of exploited fish in temperate regions:  high density and biomass of snapper Pagrus auratus (Sparidae) in northern New Zealand marine reserves.  Journal of Applied Ecology (2003) 40.