Strategic Planning for the Marlborough Sounds

Open letter from the Pete Beech of the Guardians to the Marlborough District Council

Kia Ora,

I’m disappointed that I was unable to attend your workshop to discuss long term strategic planning of the Sounds. As you know my whanau are the sixth generation to have lived here in Totaranui, the name means that the Sounds is our Mother, she gives us birth feeds us shelters us and protects us.

She has provided generations of my whanau with livelihoods from her bountiful resources, none of them ever thought that those resources would ever run out but within our generation they have.

Marlborough people have to take ownership, and acknowledge that we and our tipuna are the ones who are responsible for the collapse and have a moral responsible to restore and enhance the natural environment.

The sounds has never been managed properly, its been a succession of mono cultures, including Maori period, sealers, whalers, commercial fishing, dredging diving. Pastoral farming, gold mining, forestry & aquaculture.

Mother nature wasn’t designed to support monocultures, she’s designed to accommodate biodiversity of hundreds of trees, plants, shrubs, birds, insects, fish, kiamoana and benthic communities.

Sooner or later all monocultures collapse, we need to learn from the lessons of the past and the only way the natural environment of the sounds can be restored given the huge pressure that it is under from population , commercial , recreation and customary fishing diving , aquaculture, forestry, commercial, shipping, recreational use and tourism is through long term Strategic planning.

Council of course needs to balance the protection of the environment against the residential rights and constraints, as well as the need to provide for economic growth and development (economic argument) so we appreciate that it is a balancing act.

However in the past the economic argument has always held precedence over the environment.

I believe that we need to regard the environment in business terms, and refer to it as our Natural Capital .

With my business if I don’t service the boat engine it will become too unreliable to maintain a service, if I don’t paint it ever year it will get that ugly no one will want to use us.

The natural environment also has to be maintained, it doesn’t make economic sense to wait until the last fish is caught, until the wilding pines over come the native bush, until the introduced pests kill the last bird, until we allow the aquaculture industry to turn the sounds into one great big aquaculture farm, or until development engulfs every bay and inlet.

Council needs to acknowledge that the Sounds environment is Marlboroughs Natural Capital, and it needs to be restored, enhanced and maintained.

How can this be achieved given the large numbers of stack holders and user groups ?

And the fact that all these groups have legal rights to preserve the statis quo.

Customary rights, quota rights, existing use rights grand father clauses, etc…

I refer to these rights as the rights to catch the last fish. !

My belief is that the Sounds needs to be made into a National Park created by its own act of parliament, with a strategic management plan .

Our foreign tourists cannot believe that it is not a National park. Council need to acknowledge that the Sounds are not just a national treasure but an International treasure.

I don’t have an issue with controlled regulated development, but also wonder about getting DOC ( govt) to look seriously at buying up more significant naturl areas to preserve these areas for the future . It was done back in the days of the Maritime park board, and is being done in other areas, like durville island and the south Island high country.

Council need to identify these areas.

There should be no commercial fishing or diving activities allowed within harbour limits.

The queen Charlotte should be designated as an area set aside for tourism and recreation. And out of bounds for aquaculture especially those terribly polluting salmon farms.

As for the fishing, the first thing that needs to be acknowledged is the importance of allowing the bottom habitat a chance to recover , which means outlawing scallop, Kina dredges and set nets. Recrational diving is selective and in moderation doesn’t present a problem.

All customary and recreational fishermen need to have a fishing license, the fees from these must go back into management.

Fishing in the future needs to be based on sustainability, every bay and inlet needs to have a base line survey to determine the state of the environment, kaimoana, seaweed, fish stocks, etc… Fishing and diving in these bays needs to be controlled by Rahui, and not opened up for harvest until the resourses reach a healthy state that will handle customary and recreational harvesting.

Council and DOC need to have a dept set up to work as an integrated management sharing their knowledge and resources. This dept needs to have a good vessel that shares the duties of Pilot duties, fisheries officers, pest control, (wilding pines, pigs possums, stoats, noxious weeds etc..) harbor navigational safety.

This was a proposal that Guardians made to Council years ago , they purchased the vessel, but use it as the harbormasters personal toy.

All ferries need to be slowed to 15 kts, to prevent continuous erosion of our shore line and make the Sounds safer for recreational users. And get rid of that blasted Grandfather clause. At present ferries are completely unregulated in the sounds, they need to be !

They should have to stay in a shipping lane, and rec boaties need to stay out of it.

With designated area for crossing from one side to the other, to prevent vessels traveling down the middle of the sound or traveling across in large diagonals.

Of course the current issue is the council allowing fumigation with Methyl bromide in Picton. Three tons of a deadly nerve gas designed to kill people , released into atmosphere with no recapture and no controls or conditions.

This goes to show that the MDC air plan is a croc, with holes big enough to drive the aromoana through !

There should be NO fumigations in our town unless the use recapture and destruction technology.

Marlborough uses more sprays and toxins than any region in NZ , its air plan needs to be drastically up graded.

Pete & Takutai,

Guardians of the Sounds.