Ngāti Hei wins rāhui approval from the Ministry of Fisheries

By Mārena Mane

Ngāti Hei kaumātua  Joe Davis is pleased that the Ministry of Fisheries has now " come to its senses" in permitting a two-year rāhui, thanks to submissions, community support and Hauraki whānui.

“So, now we have, almost nine months later, a result. We've got a two-year reprieve to try and do something about our scallops,” he says.

After lobbying for mana moana, a scallop fishing ban on the Coromandel's East Coast will take effect on Saturday.

Before filing an application for the ban, the Ngāti Hei trust erected a rāhui over the Opito Bay region in December to relieve strain on the shrinking scallop beds.

The Ministry of Fisheries received almost 2000 public responses, the majority in favour of the closure.

A scallop takes five to six years to grow, according to Davis, and commercial scallops are harvested two years before they can breed, which Davis feels is insufficient.

He thinks that the two-year rāhui will allow them to evaluate, reassess, and meet with government authorities.

“Hopefully, we will be able to roll this around if we don't think the data shows that the scallop fishery is still in decline. We will be working hard on that.”

Contributing effects

Human factors such as sedimentation of water and global warming, to name a few, contribute to the demise of numerous shellfish and birds, according to Davis.

“They're starting to show that there's something wrong out there and you don't have to be a rocket scientist,” he says.

“All of that adds up to, there's something very, very wrong out there in our oceans. It’s a terrible situation.”

Davis cautions that population increase in Aotearoa can be a concern, particularly in light of Covid-19 and people viewing our country as a safe haven.

“Therefore, you can expect in another two years, probably two to three maybe five years, another million people coming into Aotearoa.”

Davis says the pressure is increasing, and sitting down to handle it is becoming increasingly important.

“There's a lot of mahi to be done. I mean we’ve only been given two years before we sit around a table again. There's a lot of work to do.”