The group is not opposed to a Marine Reserve but say the proposal by environmental groups will turn the quiet semi-rural area into a Goat Island eco-tourist destination does not take into account the lack of infrastructure. Today’s Herald reports on the on-going fight.
Marine groups' scrap at Parliament
Opponents of proposed Waiheke reserve say beaches could end up looking like crowded Goat Island.
A marine reserve around Waiheke Island beaches could lead to the kind of crowding that occurs at Goat Island, residents opposed to the plan say.
A long-running scrap over the idea has reached Parliament, with footage of dirty toilets and overcrowded beaches, and claims of "jihadi" conservationists.
The idea of a reserve off Waiheke's northern coast has been raised by Friends of the Hauraki Gulf, a group started by resident Alex Stone.
Fears of a subsequent surge in visitor numbers and a ceding of local authority led a rival group of residents to establish the Keep Our Beaches protest group.
Keep Our Beaches gathered more than 2600 signatures on a petition opposing a marine reserve off residential beaches between Oneroa and Onetangi.
That petition was submitted to Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, and Waiheke residents appeared in Parliament yesterday to argue their case.
If a marine reserve proposal is lodged, the Department of Conservation will investigate and report to the Minister of Conservation, who ultimately decides but must get sign-off from other ministers.
Deborah Cox, Miriam Whelan and Andrew Barclay from Keep Our Beaches appealed to the local government and environment select committee to advise their opposites to change their approach.
Ms Cox said they did not dispute that marine reserves promoted better marine health and biodiversity but that did not mean Waiheke's beaches were the best place for them.
Marine reserves were areas where fish and shellfish could not be taken from, Ms Cox said, but DoC could make rules including possibly restricting boat launching and dog walking on beaches.
A video presented to the committee included scenes from Goat Island and surrounds, showing dirty public toilets, overcrowding and commercial activity.
Mr Stone told the committee that an earlier map showing possible boundaries of the reserve had not been used since June 2013, and no proposal had yet been made.
Habitat and biodiversity surveys would cover the island's entire northern coast, and it would be poor science to exclude an area pre-emptively.
He said Keep Our Beaches was waging a campaign of misinformation, an example being that dogs could in fact be allowed on beaches, as at some existing marine reserves including near Island Bay in Wellington.
A compromise might be to include one or two beaches in the eventual proposal, he said.
"We can only make that decision once we've done the proper research."
However, Mr Barclay said he hoped the reserve proponents would take a more collaborative approach through the Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan forum.
"But, this is a personal comment, the others may not share this view, with the cohort of, I guess, jihadi conservationists, there is a sense that for them to win, someone else needs to lose."
• A group is working on a proposal for a marine reserve on Waiheke Island's northern coast.
• That has sparked fierce opposition from some residents, who don't want the proposal to include residential beaches.
• The battle reached Parliament yesterday, with accusations of misinformation campaigns and unreasonableness.
The group says Waiheke's population swells from a permanent population of about 8000 to roughly 40,000 in summer, and a marine reserve would strain already stretched infrastructure.
Keep Our Beaches gathered more than 2600 signatures on a petition opposing a marine reserve off residential beaches between