Despite collecting 2600 signatures on a petition, the largest in Waiheke history, opposing the marine reserve, the current Waiheke Local Board members have refused to listen. Instead they have ploughed on with their doctrinaire adherence to marine reserves at any price.
The following email has been sent to all signatories of the petition. The results are given in the table accompanying this blog.
The elections are once again upon us, and we thought it timely to provide an update on the debate on the establishment of a Marine Reserve on Waiheke’s residential beaches, and to share each Waiheke Local Boards candidates’ position on this issue.
You’ll recall that Keep Our Beaches (KOB) was formed in 2013 to oppose a plan to develop a marine reserve across Waiheke’s northern residential beaches from Oneroa to Onetangi. While KOB strongly agree that greater marine protection is required around Waiheke, we do not agree that marine reserves should be established on Waiheke’s northern residential beaches between Oneroa and Onetangi. We believe a marine reserve in these locations would have a negative and irreversible impact on the communities enjoyment and use of the beaches.
These impacts are already evident in other NZ marine reserves and include overcrowding of beaches and surrounding streets, commercialization of beaches, increased pressure on infrastructure, and of course banning of all traditional recreational fishing and shell fish gathering. A petition by Keep Our Beaches to voice this opposition resulted in 2600 signatures, the largest petition in Waiheke’s history. This petition was presented to the Waiheke Local Board and to the Parliamentary Select Committee.
The current Waiheke Local Board have continued to work towards establishing up to 13 marine reserves and marine protected areas around Waiheke. In spite of proven opposition, they are recommending a number of marine reserves, including Oneroa, Hekerua, Sandy and Enclosure Bays and Palm Beach (see area 4 and 4A on attached map, which the Local Board included in their submission to the Hauraki Gulf Seachange). This is despite a Colmar Brunton poll (commissioned by the Local Board), strongly indicating that Waiheke’s residential beaches were the least popular location for a marine reserve.
It is clear that the preservation of Waiheke’s special character, the careful management of tourism impacts and the protection of Waiheke’s marine environment are key issues in our Local Board election. KOB believe the careful management and enhancement of our marine environment is extremely important. But we do not believe this will be achieved by destroying our quiet enjoyment of these beaches and coastline or by banning recreational fishing from our beaches. We believe efforts should be on integrated management of the entire Hauraki Gulf, through initiatives such as Seachange.
To understand their position on the development of marine reserves around Waiheke, we invited the twelve 2016 Waiheke Local Board candidates for a Yes or No response to two statements to help understanding their position on the establishment of marine reserves around Waiheke. Their responses are outlined in the table below – we trust this information will prove useful when you are voting for your Waiheke Local Board.