Frequently asked questions: New marine protection rules

Find the answers to some of your questions about the new marine protection rules.

Why was there no public consultation?

Fishing restrictions were never included in council’s Proposed Regional Plan and as a result there was nothing to consult on. It was this omission that prompted the appeal to the Environment Court that council should have fishing protections. The court process did not allow for community consultation while the issue was before the court.

Council supported the court’s decision on the basis that the evidence provided showed significant ecological values in the areas under consideration were being negatively impacted by fishing, and because it reflected the concerns of local hapū Ngati Kuta ki Te Rawhiti and Te Uri O Hikihiki who wanted protections put in place.

Who will oversee the new rules?

An interim governance structure is being set up to implement the new rules, involving Northland Regional Council, local hapū and key stakeholders. We are aiming for a co-governance approach with local hapū to implement the rules.

These rules are in place for 10 years at which time a review of the regional plan and its rules is due to take place.

Could similar rules be developed for other places in Te Taitokerau?

Yes – but not without full public consultation. With the precedent now set, it opens the door for similar rules to be developed for other areas too. That would have to happen via a plan change, and would involve comprehensive consultation as required by the Resource Management Act (RMA) Schedule 1 process.

When did/do the rules come into force?

Under the RMA, the rules have actually been in effect from when the interim decision was released on 5 November 2022.

There’s a lot involved in actually implementing the new rules though, from public education to compliance to environmental monitoring. How that will all be done is being worked through with the interim governance group.

Who will pay for implementing the new rules and how much will it cost?

Council will develop an implementation plan with the interim governance group, which will set out the detail of how the rules will be implemented and how much that might cost.

We will likely consult with the wider community early next year on how we’ll pay for the implementation costs, as part of consultation on our Long Term Plan (our 10-year council plan for what we do and how we pay for it).

Are there other fishing restrictions in these areas?

Yes. Fisheries New Zealand provides information on these other fishing rules including recreational fishing rules that cover Northland, maps on the NABIS WebApp and a facebook page for Northland.

How can I get a list of the GPS waypoints?

The attached maps on our website show the coordinates, and GPS waypoints are available via the following sources/links:

What are the penalties if I’m caught fishing?

While the main focus is on education and advocacy around the reasons why the no take areas have been set up, compliance measures available under the RMA include abatement notices and infringement fines of up to $500, and ultimately prosecution with maximum penalties of imprisonment for up to two years or a fine up to $300,000 for an individual, or $600,000 for an organisation.

We would take an education-based approach to compliance, monitoring and enforcement in the first instance.

Are there exceptions to the rules for things like research?

Yes, the court provided for ‘permitted activities’ for things like research and restoration.

Council is working with other parties to help set up processes for permitted activities in these no-take areas. For more information, please contact our policy or compliance team on 0800 002 004.

How are these rules different from those that apply to marine reserves?

Marine reserves are designated areas for complete and permanent protection under the Marine Reserves Act 1971 and are managed by the Department of Conservation. The new rules fall under the Resource Management Act (RMA) which allows more flexibility in management and requires monitoring and review after 10 years.

Will there be monitoring?

Yes. There will be compliance monitoring, to make sure people are following the rules, and biodiversity monitoring, to look at what impact the rules are having over time. Council, together with implementation partners, will be developing a monitoring plan for these areas.

How will the rules be policed?

We are still working out the details of our approach to education, compliance, monitoring and enforcement activities. However, there will be appropriate education, signage, on-water enforcement patrols and other activities as required.

How will you know if the rules are effective at protecting biodiversity?

In our view there will be a need for a co-designed biodiversity monitoring plan for these areas which will enable simple, effective long-term data gathering against our current baselines to inform future management decisions.

Who initiated the marine protection areas?

The proponents (parties that initiated the marine protection areas through submissions and appeals) were:

  • Te Uri o Hikihiki. The marine protected area at Mimiwhangata was originally proposed by Te Au o Morunga our taumata of Kaumata and Kuia in the 1990’s. Submissions were prepared by Kaumatua Carmen Hetaraka and planner Dr Mark Bellingham. Kaumatua Hepi Haika and Kuia Evelyn Kenwright (Aunty Blondie) supported and signed off on the submissions which related to 28 generations of marine management of the rohe moana and matauranga Māori. Te Uri o Hikihiki worked closely with Ngati Kuta and Patukeha as their rohe overlap towards Rakaumangamanga. Te Uri o Hikihiki have worked with marine scientists who have been monitoring marine ecosystems at Mimiwhangata since 1971, and Vince Kerr (BSc Biological Science) has continued with this work and presented submissions on this at the Court hearing. The Environment Court hearings resulted in a ban on bottom trawling and purse seine fishing around Rakaumangamanga (Cape Brett) and in the two protected areas. This will benefit recreational, customary and other commercial fishers.
  • Ngati Kuta
  • Bay of Islands Maritime Park / Fish Forever
  • Forest and Bird

You can read the evidence they (and others) provided to the Environment Court here at: Environment Court evidence 

Does council have the skills and knowledge to manage these marine protection areas?

Although our organisation hasn’t managed these kinds of rules before in a marine environment, we do have trained staff in monitoring, compliance, regulation, marine biosecurity and marine policy. We will be working closely with hapū and iwi and the many agency and community interests of the Bay of Islands.

Why is Māori customary fishing allowed?

Māori customary fishing, harvesting and the application of tikanga are culturally and spiritually significant. Customary fishing is recognised in law in both the Fisheries Act 1996 and Resource Management Act 1991. Anyone can fish using customary rights but to do so you must be issued with a permit by a local kaitiaki who is an authorised customary fisheries permit issuer for that area. Customary fishing compliance is managed by Ministry of Primary Industries fisheries officers who have the power to check the validity of customary rights permits.