New no-take (for most) fishing areas have been formally adopted by Northland Regional Council (NRC) following a ground-breaking* Environment Court decision that confirmed fishing – including recreational – is no longer permitted from Maunganui Bay (Deep Water Cove) to Oporua (Oke Bay) in the Bay of Islands as well as around the Mimiwhangata peninsula, which is 50 kilometres north of Whangārei.
Exceptions to the no-take rules include non-commercial Māori customary fishing rights, kina harvest, and activities associated with restoration & research.
The Environment Court process meant public consultation on the no-take rules was not possible, but NRC supported the court’s decision on the basis that significant ecological values were being negatively impacted by fishing in the areas, and because it reflected the concerns of local hapū Te Uri O Hikihiki and Ngati Kuta ki Te Rawhiti.
Iwi to control customary fishing within ‘their’ area
According to the Northland Regional Council anyone can fish using customary rights but to do so you must be issued with a permit by a local kaitiaki who is an authorised customary fisheries permit issuer for that area. It is at the sole discretion of kaitiaki to issue a permit for customary fishing and describe what can be collected, why and when. Kaitiaki are appointed by their own iwi and hapū groups and confirmed by the Minister of Fisheries.
“It’s up to the person wanting to fish to know how to go about doing this”. NRC
The ruling by the Environment Court also means commercial bulk harvesting of fish (specific seining and trawling methods) is prohibited in a new area around Rakaumangamanga (Cape Brett) to a depth of approximately 100 metres. The area starts immediately north of Maunganui Bay, passes around Rakaumangamanga and south of Whangamumu Harbour, to end just north of Te Akau (Elliott Bay).
Council chair, Tui Shortland says the council is continuing to work with iwi and hapū in the implementation areas.
Compliance measures available under the Resource Management Act ranged from fines of several hundred dollars for breaking rules or not providing information to a warranted enforcement officer through to imprisonment for up to two years or a fine up to $300,000 for an individual, or $600,000 for an organisation.
*The Environment Court’s decision is considered ground-breaking because it is the first time the Resource Management Act has been successfully used the to ban specific commercial fishing practices.