Health of the Gulf

The Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana / Te Moananui-ā-Toi is a taonga / treasure.  It is our playground and our food basket, and it is in serious trouble. 

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park covers 1.2 million hectares of ocean, stretching from Mangawhai in the north to Waihi on the Coromandel Peninsula and hosts New Zealand’s largest city. It is one of this country’s most prized marine resources, for many reasons. It generates more than $2.7 billion every year in economic activity and supports the greatest number of recreational fishers and boaties in the country. It has a particularly rich diversity of seabirds, marine mammals, fisheries and marine habitats. In addition, it encompasses a variety of sanctuaries, marine reserves and islands. The Hauraki Gulf was designated a marine park in 2000 [1].

State of the gulf reporting

The Hauraki Gulf Forum, the statutory co-governance body for the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, has published a State of the Gulf report every three years since its establishment in 2000[2].  Successive reports point to little or no progress in improving the mauri or life sustaining capacity of the Gulf.  

The HGF’s latest State of the Gulf report (2020) indicates:

  • Overall biomass of fish is now estimated to be less than 45% of what it was in 1925.   
  • Tāmure / snapper populations are 25% of what they were at the start of the 20th Century.
  • Koura / crayfish are considered functionality extinct
Snapper biomass
Modelled tāmure biomass for the Hauraki Gulf/Bay of Plenty substock. Source: Hauraki Gulf Forum 2020 report

There were six marine reserves constituted under the 1971 Marine Reserves Act, yet only one had been created in this century, and since the marine park act had been in place.  Just 0.3% of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is protected. 

The political will to fix the problem

The Forum has identified four “big goals” that need to be worked on to address the decline of the Gulf. These are:

  • At least 30% marine protected area
  • 1,000 sq.km of restored shellfish beds and reefs
  • No marine dumping in the Marine Park or near its boundaries
  • Riparian planting of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park catchment

The Sea Change / Tai Timu Tai Pari marine spatial plan project[3] had its inception in the 2011 State of our Gulf Report released by the Forum.  The preparation of a marine spatial plan was seen as a mechanism through which all the significant issues impacting on the Gulf could be considered together as an integrated whole.    The spatial plan was completed in December 2016 and intended to address the growing spatial resource conflicts and ecological degradation associated with the Hauraki Gulf. The plan identifies shellfish restoration as a critical component of the restoration of the Gulf.

Find out more about what mussels do.

[1] Environment Foundation – Case study on SeaChange Tai Timu Tai Pari
[2] Hauraki Gulf Forum – State of the Gulf Reports
[3] SeaChange / Tai Timu Tai Pari

Principal Partners