More than 150 people turned out to a public meeting focussing on New Zealand’s first marine spatial plan Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari held in Whangamata recently.
And despite there being a large number of diverse people who attended the meeting at the Whangamata Ocean Sports Club, general manager Phil Keogh says it was “very civil”.
“To be honest, we didn’t know what to expect. There were a lot of very passionate people there. However, everyone was polite and civil to each other and the club was very proud of the outcome.
“Consensus at the meeting was that we must do something. First priority is communication, the plan in its current form is long and confusing and It was agreed that a brochure be produced that helps people understand the key points more.”
During the meeting support was widespread to push commercial fishing further off shore, and another well discussed point was Maori Fishing Rights, with the meeting was able to clear up many locals’ concerns.
Phil says it was also agreed that recreational fishing isn’t just about having fun out on the water but an important contributor to the economies of coastal towns like Whangamata as it brings in tourists.
It’s early days for the spatial plan and there’ll be much more discussion along the way, but as New Zealand’s biggest fishing club in New Zealand, Whangamata Ocean Sports Club has a responsibility to keep its membership informed, he adds.
“Our big blue backyard is critical for our club and our members and we’ll continue to keep you informed as much as we can.”
The creators of the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari say the marine spatial plan is designed to improve the health of the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana and better protect it for current and future generations.
Four years in the making, the non-statutory plan is the outcome of a huge collaborative project overseen by a partnership between mana whenua, and local and central government.
Guest speakers on the night included Sea Change Stakeholder Working Group member Dirk Sieling, New Zealand Sport Fishing Council member and LegaSea spokesman Scott Macindoe, Waikato Regional councillor Dal Minogue, Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, Thames-Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie and Hauraki District Mayor John Tregidga.