Greens announce election pledge to ban bottom trawling, dredging in Hauraki Gulf

Source: 1News

If part of the next Government, the Green Party is vowing to end “destructive commercial fishing practices” — seamount bottom trawling, dredging, set-netting and Danish seining — to restore the Hauraki Gulf.  

Meanwhile, up to $50 million would be invested to help fishers transition to more sustainable methods. 

The party today released its Thriving Oceans Plan, which aimed to “dramatically increase marine protected areas and ban bottom trawling on seamounts”. In total, the plan would cost $110 million over three years.

It also pledged $10 million to restore 100,000 hectares of shellfish beds and reduce sewerage and stormwater pollution.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said protection of the Gulf needed to be stepped up.   

“Bottom trawling and dredging are indiscriminate and destructive fishing methods,” she said.

“These practices destroy and degrade the sea bed habitats of the Tikapa Moana/Te Moananui a Toi/Hauraki Gulf, which needs a healthy seafloor to thrive.”

She said the party wasn't looking to ban bottom trawling out in deeper waters as part of the proposal "at the moment". 

"Bottom trawling on seamounts is vitally important for marine ecosystems, and that's what we're proposing at this stage." 

The Greens also want to introduce comprehensive marine spatial planning to help plan how different marine areas would be used.

Davidson also pledged Greens would review the quota management system in partnership with Māori.

The Greens would also up enforcement, including speeding up getting cameras on commercial fishing boats, Davidson said.

"It is the commercial and overfishing around the world and in New Zealand that has really stuffed it up for recreational [fishers], for our households to go out and get a kai," she said.

"We know again that we want to support recreational fishing to be sustainable, alongside customary fishing as well."

She said recreational fishers have "had to bear the brunt" of rules in the past while commercial fishers had "sadly gotten away with far too much".

It comes as the Government announced it would pay up to $60 million to get cameras on some inshore fishing boats by the end of 2024. 

The cameras will be used to monitor any breach of fishing quotas by operators.

Under the Greens' proposed policy, fishers would need to apply for the funding by the end of 2022.

The Greens would also zone parts of the Gulf for additional protection, Davidson said.

It would include areas for customary takes and iwi and hapū management and no-take marine reserves and areas for scientific research. 

“To give everyone a better chance of catching a fish, we will reduce bag limits, and bring in boat catch limits for certain species while they recover,” Davidson said.

The Thriving Oceans Plan also planned to legislate the protection of at least 30 per cent of New Zealand’s oceans by 2030. 

Set-nets and bottom trawling can indiscriminately harm penguins, dolphins and seabirds through by-catch.