Umupuia Beach rāhui renewed
30 September 2010
Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Phil Heatley has agreed to extend the temporary closure of Umupuia Beach at Maraetai on the Waitemata Harbour to the take of cockles for a further two years, until 15 October 2012.
Randall Bess, Ministry of Fisheries Spatial Allocations Manager, said Ngāi Tai Umupuia Te Waka Totara Trust, on behalf of Ngāi Tai iwi and Umupuia Marae, had asked the Minister to renew the current closure. “This was because Ngāi Tai are concerned that opening the beach to harvesting would put at risk the recovery of the cockle population,” Mr Bess said.
Temporary closures in North Island waters are established under section 186A of the Fisheries Act 1996. They can be put in place at the request of the local tangata whenua if the closure will improve the availability and/or size of fisheries resources in the area, or recognise a customary fishing practice in that area, such as a rāhui (closure).
Laurie Beamish, Chief Executive Officer of Ngāi Tai Umupuia Te Waka Totara Trust, said the cockles at Umupuia Beach are an important customary resource to tangata whenua and are considered a taonga.
Since 2006, Ngāi Tai have placed a rāhui over Umupuia Beach to the take of cockles because of concern among tangata whenua and the wider community over falling numbers of cockles in the Umupuia beds and the large numbers of people gathering cockles.
Mr Beamish said the Trust is encouraged by the widespread support from the local community for this rāhui. “Ngāi Tai considers this shows the positive outcomes that can be achieved when communities work together,” he said.
The results of a 2010 survey show the total estimated cockle population at Umupuia Beach has increased significantly since 2006, but only 4 percent of the cockles are 30 millimetres or more in length. Although there is no minimum legal size, recreational and customary harvesters prefer cockles to be more than 30 millimetres in length.
“Renewing this temporary closure will allow the cockles in the Umupuia beds to continue to grow without pressure from harvesting, helping to ensure the resource is available for future generations,” Mr Beamish said.
Fishery Officers and Honorary Fishery Officers will continue to patrol and enforce the closure. Fines of up to $100,000 can apply to anybody breaching it. Members of the public are encouraged to call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224) if they see anything suspicious at Umupuia Beach or elsewhere.