The Kaiaua –based Marine Farming Action Committee (MFAC) supports the ARC’s announcement and says that the environmental and open space qualities of the Inner Hauraki Gulf (including the Firth of Thames) – which forms part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park - must be preserved for present and future generations.
”There are very few remote spaces left in the Region and fewer and fewer places where people can ‘get it away from it all’. The Firth of Thames should be protected from any further aquaculture,” says MFAC spokesman, environmental lawyer Simon Berry. “The Firth is a significant regional resource with high ecological, scenic, recreational, cultural and spiritual values. It is an important feeding and nursery ground for many key fish and bird species, and an internationally recognised RAMSAR (vital coastal wetland) site.” Mr Berry said.
Appropriate ProtectionHe believes that appropriate recognition of the recreational, amenity and ecosystem servicing values of the Inner Hauraki Gulf and the Firth is of fundamental importance. Particularly in the face of competing demands for the use of this space by the large population within easy reach of these uniquely productive waters - an area that already enjoys special protective status under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act.
“Providing for further aquaculture activities in the Firth of Thames does not make sense when there are much less risky alternatives available, such as the waters of the Outer Gulf and outside the Region where population, competition for water space and environmental impacts are minimal”, added Mr Berry.
He said the MFAC was pleased that the ARC had indicated that it will exclude aquaculture from the coastal areas of the Auckland Region while directing aquaculture to offshore areas. There are already a number of small mussel and oyster growing activities located around the Inner Gulf, plus an extensive marine farming area that has been set aside at Wilson Bay (Coromandel) for large scale aquaculture.
“What has already been permitted is more than enough – any large scale farms would seriously compromise the natural character, biological and recreational qualities of the Firth,” Mr. Berry said.