Revitalising the Gulf – what we’re doing and how you can help

28 Jun 2021 by Andy Kenworthy

The government has just responded to the 2017 Sea Change report with new measures to protect and restore the Hauraki Gulf. What can you do to help?

The parlous state of the Hauraki Gulf is a national disgrace. The mana and mauri (life essence) of Tikapa Moana/Te Moana-nui-a-Toi has been brutally undermined. There have been decades of over-fishing and pollution from sediment, heavy metals and plastics.

Now new government plans would increase the area of the 1.2 million hectare marine park with more comprehensive protection, from less than 0.3% to more than 5%. Areas with some protection are set to increase from about 6% to 18%. There will be new catch limits. There will be cameras on commercial fishing boats. Fish dumping will be banned. Trawling will be restricted.

There’s also welcome recognition of the vital role of Te Ao Māori and mana whenua. Indigenous perspectives provide robust conceptual frameworks for our interrelationship with the waters. They’re also creating practical examples of how to apply them, like the recent rahui on the taking of selected species from the shores of Waiheke.

We all have a role to play. Here are some more simple actions you can take to help.

  1. Plastic pollution: Avoid using single use plastics in your home and business. If can’t avoid the purchase or switch to a reusable option, choose recyclable plastics with a genuine market in New Zealand. Generally, these are marked with the plastic codes 1, 2 and 5.
  2. Heavy metal pollution: Leave the car at home more often to reduce pollution. Walk, cycle or use public transport. For businesses, this means cutting your fleet where possible. It also means promoting and supporting more responsible commuting for your staff.
  3. Sediment: If you’re in the business of developing land, or doing so at home, you need to ensure you prevent sediment run off from your site. Contact your local council if in any doubt. Donations to SBN’s Million Metre’ Streams Project also help tackle sediment. Plants and trees help hold topsoil in place and act as a partial filter for particulates headed into the waterway and the sea.
  4. Overfishing: If you eat fish, consult Forest and Bird’s Good fish guide (Forest & Bird) for what you should choose. If you catch your own, stick to the limits, leave the big ‘uns and only take what you need for a feed!

Our work is already underway in a number of areas. Since 2014 our Million Metres Streams Project has been on a mission to restore Aotearoa New Zealand’s rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. The project enables landowners and local volunteers to set up and run crowdfunding campaigns. It connects them with advice, expertise, resources and funds to plan and carry out their waterway restoration projects.

We’re currently gearing up for this year’s all important planting season campaign. This will ensure our partner projects can get their native plants and trees in the ground. This includes projects on waterways that feed directly into the Gulf. Together, they are helping to combat biodiversity loss and pollution all the way out to the sea. Why not show your support by donating?

In October 2018 we began a programme of work to tackle some of the land-based issues impacting the Gulf. This has received funding from Gulf Innovation Fund Together (G.I.F.T) – a Foundation North initiative. We’re working to influence and inspire across a range of topics. This includes our highly successful NZ Packaging Masterclasses. The Masterclasses are a multi-year collaboration between experts in business, packaging innovation and regulation. The aim is to radically reduce, redesign and genuinely recycle packaging in this country. This will mean less of it in our oceans.

We’re working with Auckland Council to improve business awareness and action on rubbish in storm drains flowing to the sea. And we’re promoting low copper brake pads to reduce roadside heavy metal pollution that also washes into the storm drain system when it rains. Many organisations from across the Sustainable Business Network are working on these issues. Foodstuffs NZ is progressively eliminating problem packaging. EV Marine is developing electrically powered ferries. Alsco is backing our work on waterways.

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) agrees with the assessment of many environmental groups that at least 30% of these waters should be properly protected. That means this is clearly just the beginning of a long journey. At this stage it’s crucial that we get in behind the progress being made. We all need to do our bit to support and accelerate it. Sediment, in particular, is a long term issue that will take generations to fix. We must make real progress now.

To find out more visit website.