Hundreds in protest against Hauraki Gulf bottom trawling dangers

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The "ban bottom trawling" flotilla off Mission Bay beach today. Image: Greenpeace drone screenshot APR

By James Hita of Greenpeace

A flotilla of crafts surrounding a massive “ban bottom trawling” banner protested off Auckland’s Mission Bay today against bottom trawling in the Hauraki Gulf marine park.

Hundreds of people turned out on the beach and on the water for the event organised by Greenpeace Aotearoa and Forest and Bird.

More than 60 vessels from yachts to kayaks and paddleboards joined the flotilla, surrounding a huge banner calling for an end to bottom trawling in the Gulf.

“We’re here to call for an end to destructive bottom trawling in the Hauraki Gulf Tīkapa Moana to protect our big blue backyard for the future,” said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper.

“All these people are here today because they want a thriving, vibrant Hauraki Gulf, free from the threat of destructive bottom trawling.

“Trawling has no place in this precious marine park and the public mandate for change is clear – more than 84 percent of people surveyed want trawling gone from the Gulf.

“It’s time the government listens and bans bottom trawling so the Gulf can recover.”

‘Biodiversity hotspot’
Forest and Bird Hauraki Gulf coordinator Bianca Ranson said: “Tīkapa Moana is a biodiversity hotspot, it is a taonga, and we must do everything we can to revitalise the mauri and life-sustaining capacity of the Gulf.

“Everything is connected in an ecosystem and it is deeply disappointing that bottom trawling is still being allowed to continue.

“From Byrde’s whales to manta ray and tarakihi to tāiko,  the Hauraki Gulf is home to a treasure trove of marine life and bottom trawling puts all that life at risk, destroying the seafloor and indiscriminately catching more than the Gulf can sustain.”

Bottom trawling is an indiscriminate fishing method that involves dragging large weighted nets across the seafloor, bulldozing ocean life and destroying precious ecosystems.

A single trawl can create a sediment plume comparable in size to the entire Goat Island Marine Reserve, choking filter-feeding animals and smothering photosynthesising organisms.

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