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Recent court decisions concerning waters around Motiti Island have surprised the recreational fishing public. The Court has essentially approved the ability for regional council’s to control fishing under the Resource Management Act (RMA).
The RMA was enacted in 1991 and it applies to land practices and the Territorial Sea, that is the marine environment out to 12 nautical miles from the coast.
The Court decisions mean that there is potential for the closure of fishing areas in the Territorial Sea all around New Zealand. A detailed summary of these Court decisions and the actions the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council (NZSFC) is taking to protect recreational interests is provided below.
- The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council (NZSFC) has received legal advice that it would be futile to seek to challenge the existing court decisions concerning Motiti Island. The best approach that can be taken is to work with the Bay of Plenty Regional council to monitor the situation and marine environment, while seeking the re-opening of these areas to low impact recreational fishing in due course.
- The NZSFC has intervened in Environment Court cases in Northland and Taranaki which seek RMA fishing controls over large areas. NZSFC will be staunchly protecting recreational interests in these areas and liaising with local members as these cases move through the Court system.
- Regional Council decisions in Marlborough have endorsed benthic protection areas under the RMA, which shows how RMA fishing controls could be used to limit the impact of destructive commercial fishing practices. NZSFC considers that this is a model which could be adopted in the Northland and Taranaki regions.
In the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council’s view, the need to resort to the RMA to try to protect marine ecosystems is another symptom of a failed Quota Management System.
It is also further evidence of the urgent need for comprehensive reform of fisheries management, including the Quota Management System.
No changes to fishing access around Motiti Island will apply over the summer of 2020-21. There are several steps required before the Bay of Plenty Regional Council can give effect to the Court ruling. The BoP Regional Council has committed to keeping the public informed as progress is made.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has advised that the Minister of Conservation has approved the final provisions for the Bay of Plenty Coastal Environment Plan (RCEP), resolving the two outstanding appeals relating to the Motiti Protection Area and Matakana Island.
A copy of the Coastal Environment Plan can be viewed and downloaded from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website here.
Regional Council update
On 11 May 2021 the Bay of Plenty Regional Council advised that the Minister of Conservation had approved the final provisions for the Bay of Plenty Regional Coastal Environment Plan (RCEP). This means that marine spatial provisions to establish the 3 Motiti Protection Areas within the Motiti Natural Environment Management Area have been included in the RCEP. The areas and rules applying to those areas will be effective from 11 August 2021. More information is available on the Regional Council website here.
Motiti marine protected areas. Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Jun 2021
Map of the 3 marine protected areas within the Motiti Natural Environment Management Area. These areas have been included in the Bay of Plenty Regional Coastal Environment Plan. BOPRC. June 2021
Update Environment Court RMA appeals. NZSFC. Dec 2020
Update on the Environment Court appeals under the Resource Management Act. Includes details on the Northland proceedings and area maps. NZSFC. December 2020.
Update Motiti and RMA coastal plan changes. NZSFC. Oct 2020
Update on the Court of Appeal and Environment Court decisions confirming the ability for Regional Councils to regulate fishing within the Territorial Sea, within 12 nm of the coastline. NZSFC. 7 October 2020.
Update Motiti decision and RMA fishing controls. NZSFC. Mar 2020
Update on the Court decisions for Motiti Island in regards to RMA fishing controls, and the NZSFC response. Update by the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council. 19 March 2020.
Motiti protection areas. Environment Court. 20 Nov 2019
Map showing the Motiti Protection Areas and Motiti Natural Environment Area, including GPS coordinates. 20 November 2019.
Motiti Protection Area BOP Regional Council updates
Updates from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to advise how it plans to protect three reef systems near Motiti Island. The 3 areas include Ōtaiti (Astrolabe Reef) including Te Papa (Brewis Shoal), Te Portotiti and Okarapu Reef, Motuhaku Island (Schooner Rocks) and Motunau Island (Plate Island).
BOP Regional Coastal Environment Plan
Decisions regarding the management of the Territorial Sea, out to 12 nm from the coast, are based on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Coastal Environment Plan. Most recent plan dated 3 December 2019.
NZSFC notice joining Environment Court appeal. 5 June 2020
Section 274 notice to join the Environment Court proceeding between EDS and the Marlborough District Council. Outlines relief sought. NZSFC. 5 June 2020
Environment Court Final Motiti decision. 24 Apr 2020
The Environment Court directs the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to make Plan changes to apply new rules to protect indigenous biodiversity around 3 reef systems near Motiti Island. All organisms must be protected from harvest within the new Motiti Protection Areas created under the Regional Coastal Plan changes. 24 April 2020.
NZSFC notice joining Environment Court appeal. 11 Feb 2020
Section 274 notice to join the Environment Court proceedings between Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust and the Taranaki Regional Council. Outlines relief sought. NZSFC. 11 February 2020
NZSFC notice joining Environment Court Knuckey appeal. 11 Feb 2020
Section 274 notice to join the Environment Court proceedings between Grant Knuckey and the Taranaki Regional Council. Outlines relief sought. NZSFC. 11 February 2020
NZSFC notice joining Environment Court appeal. 18 Dec 2019
Section 274 notice to join the Environment Court proceedings between Forest & Bird and the Northland Regional Council. Outlines relief sought. NZSFC. 18 December 2019
Court of Appeal Motiti decision. 4 Nov 2019
Landmark Court of Appeal decision confirming the ability of Regional Councils to apply controls to protect and maintain indigenous biodiversity within the Territorial Sea, 12 nautical miles from the coastline. 4 November 2019.
Environment Court Interim Motiti decision. 11 May 2018
Interim decision by the Environment Court that found the Bay of Plenty Regional Council needed to provide better protection for selected reefs within the Territorial Sea around Motiti Island. 11 May 2018.
Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991
The Resource Management Act was enacted in 1991. It applies to land practices and the Territorial Sea. The Territorial Sea extends seaward 12 nautical miles from the NZ coastline. 1991.
2020 – It's a wrap
The past 12 months has been a rollercoaster ride for most of us and on the fisheries front the year has been equally undulating. Article. LegaSea. 18 Jan 2021
Fishers concerned about lost access. Sunlive article. 14 Jan 2021
Bay of Plenty locals express concerns about losing access to popular fishing areas around Motiti Island. Article from Sunlive, Bay of Plenty news. 14 January 2021.
Motiti and RMA fishing controls update. LegaSea. 1 June 2020
Recent court decisions concerning waters around Motiti Island in the Bay of Plenty have surprised the fishing public. Article. LegaSea. 1 June 2020
Potential fishing closures in Northland. LegaSea. 10 Feb 2020
After years of bearing witness to declining fish stocks and inshore trawling a Maori Trust in the Bay of Plenty has taken the initiative to protect indigenous biodiversity. Article. LegaSea. 10 February 2020.
Lack of clarity around Bay of Plenty closures. LegaSea. 29 Nov 2019
Prime fishing areas in the Bay of Plenty have been targeted for closure and LegaSea along with local fishers are pushing back. Article. LegaSea. 29 November 2019.
Breakdowns caused by QMS failure. LegaSea. 20 Nov 2019
In the Bay of Plenty we don’t have to look far for evidence that the Quota Management System is not working. Article. LegaSea. 20 November 2019.