Reserve to boost seafood

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014
Arowhenua’s John Henry
JOHN BISSET/Fairfax NZ

COAST RESERVED: Arowhenua’s John Henry looks over some of the area in Caroline Bay where tangata whenua have applied to make a mataitai reserve.

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Arowhenua runanga has sought protective reserve status over Caroline Bay and a coastal site south of Timaru to boost seafood stocks.

Mataitai reservations have been applied for to cover the areas from Washdyke Lagoon to Caroline Bay and from 500m north of Scarborough Rd to Lagoon Drive.

A mataitai reserve is a traditional fishing ground with a co-guardianship by the local tangata whenua and the Ministry of Fisheries.

Arowhenua runanga's John Henry said the application was submitted in an effort to improve stocks of seafood, which are severely depleted.

"The area has been overfished ... that includes everybody. We have a large population of Asians in Timaru who utilise the area. Islanders who have been coming into the area are using it too," he said.

Henry said the tangata whenua would put rules and regulations in place to secure the local supply if granted the mataitai, but would be consulting with members of the public before putting in any regulations.

"It has been a traditional source for us getting our food for 150 years. We want people to realise what is an acceptable way of getting food," he said.

He said there were no assurances the mataitai would be granted.

"What we are trying to do is secure it [the mataitai] for local consumption," he said.

Henry said Arowhenua would hold a public meeting on Saturday, July 5. It was being held on a Saturday night because it was a "neutral" night when people did not have other commitments on and would be able to attend.

Ministry for Primary Industries spatial allocations manager David Scranney said for the mataitai to be granted the minister must be satisfied that the proposed reserve is an identified traditional fishing ground.

He said the tangata whenua must prove it is of a size that can be effectively managed.

He said if the mataitai reserve status is granted, recreational fishing would fall under the Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulation 2013 until bylaws are agreed to.

Bylaws can restrict or prohibit the taking of fish, aquatic life, or seaweed from within the whole or any part of the mataitai reserve for the purpose of sustainable management. They apply to all persons fishing in the mataitai reserve and cannot be used to exclude non-Maori from using the fisheries resources.

"In most cases the only change that initially occurs is commercial fishing must cease within the boundaries of the mataitai reserve," Scranney said.

MATAITAI MUST MEET STRICT CRITERIA

A mataitai reserve is a traditional fishing ground of special importance to the local Maori.

Under the Kaimoana Regulations 1998, the tangata whenua may apply for areas of water they believe should be classified as a mataitai reserve.

In order for the minister of fisheries to grant the mataitai, there are criteria to be met:

1. A special relationship between the tangata whenua and the proposed reserve must be proven.

2. Applicants must provide a statement of their general management aims for the proposed mataitai reserve.

3. Applicants must notify the traditional fishing ground and size appropriate to effective management.

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4. There must be the ability of the local community to take fish, aquatic life or seaweed for non-commercial purposes.

5. There must not be unreasonable prevention of persons taking fish, aquatic life or seaweed for non-commercial purposes.

6. The proposed mataitai cannot be in an established marine reserve.

- The Timaru Herald

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