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Whangarei Coast National Marine Park Proposal

This is a news story by Peter de Graaf, Northern Advocate 26th July 2010

“A marine park covering much of the Whangarei District’s coast could generate $22 million a year for Northland, the proposal’s backers say.

The park would see commercial fishing banned in an 1800sq km triangle between Whangarei Heads, Cape Brett and the Poor Knights Islands.

Recreational fishing would still be allowed, albeit with reduced bag limits, except in a few protected areas.

 The Marine National Park proposal has been around at least since 2005. It has won the backing of environmental groups and the Northland Chamber of Commerce, but is strongly opposed by commercial fishers.

 Now two of its backers, Dive Tutukaka owner Jeroen Jongejans and Tutukaka investor John Dentice, are hoping to bring the region's environmental watchdog, the Northland Regional Council, on board.

 In a presentation to councillors last week the pair said axing commercial fishing in the 1800sq km area would cost the region $250,000 in lost income. However, that would be easily outweighed by $22 million in economic benefits through tourism and recreational fishing.

 The benefit to Tutukaka alone would be around $7 million. Currently tourism in Tutukaka, including Mr Jongejans' own dive business, employs more than 60 people, while commercial fishing employs four. In all of Northland tourism employed one in every 10 workers, whereas commercial fishing employed 290 in total.

 Mr Jongejans said they were not pushing for a marine reserve or a marine protected area, but for a marine national park which catered for recreational fishing and customary rights. The aim was to increase fish stocks and enhance habitats, as well as to boost economic returns for the region.

 They suggested cutting daily bag limits for fish and shellfish by half inside the park.

Asked by councillors what he wanted from them, Mr Jongejans said: "We'd love to have your endorsement. From a tourism point of view, and an economic point of view, it's a no-brainer," he added.

 Cr Craig Brown asked whether the proposed bag limit was negotiable, and why they wanted a marine park at Tutukaka and not, for example, in the Kaipara where most of Northland's snapper were spawned. "Some people would say it's because you're not running a business in the Kaipara," Mr Brown said.

Chairman Mark Farnsworth said council staff would put an item on the agenda for next month's meeting so councillors could decide whether they wanted to endorse the marine park plan.” 

 View the PDF document of the Marine Park presentation Sponsors