The coastal protection indicator monitors the area of Waikato Regional Council's marine environment which is legally protected or subject to management controls. For the purpose of this indicator, the coastal marine environment is defined as the area from Mean High Water Springs out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit.
Monitoring the coastal marine environment helps us to better manage current pressures and future economic growth. Ensuring a full range of habitats are protected will help to ensure that marine biodiversity is preserved.
The Waikato Regional Policy Statement sets out a policy of protection of significant areas, the objective being to preserve the natural character of the coastal environment. The Waikato Regional Coastal Plan contains policies aiming to identify and protect significant vegetation and habitat and to ensure the protection of biodiversity, the inter-relatedness of coastal ecology and the natural movement of biota within the Coastal Marine Area.
Coastal areas can be awarded varying degrees of protection:
Marine Reserves provide the highest level of protection of the marine environment. Currently, only one marine reserve exists in the Waikato region: Te Whanganui-A-Hei, near Hahei. It covers an area of nearly 800 hectares (ha).
Marine Parks represent another level of protection. The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park includes the Firth of Thames and the Coromandel Peninsula. The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000 (external link) sets out objectives designed to protect in perpetuity the natural and historic features of the Gulf. If restrictions are needed to achieve those objectives then acts such as the Resource Management Act, Marine Reserves Act 1971 or the Fisheries Act 1996 may be used. There are five marine reserves within the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, although only one is within the Waikato region.
The Hauraki Gulf Forum (external link) was established as result of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act. On the Forum is representation from the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Fisheries and Ministry of Maori Affairs, six representatives of the tangata whenua of the Hauraki Gulf and its islands, and twelve local authorities (including Waikato Regional Council). The Forum meets four times a year and the 2014 Hauraki Gulf State of the Environment Report is available on Auckland Council’s website (external link) .
Marine mammal sanctuaries restrict particular activities, such as mining and seismic surveying, to protect marine mammals.
Areas of Significant Conservation Value (ASCVs) afford legal protection (as outlined in the Regional Coastal Plan) to many of the region’s important estuarine environments and spawning grounds.
Other forms of ‘protection’ include areas designated as local fishing grounds under the Maori Fisheries Act 1989 and submarine cable and pipeline zones. (See Table 1 for more information.)
The coastal protection indicator will be updated every 5 years, the next one scheduled for 2020.
Coastal Scientist - Science and Strategy Directorate
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