A 5.6km Mataitai Reserve is being proposed by Te Ngai Tuahuriri Runanga for the coastline north from Amberley Beach.
An application has been received by Fisheries New Zealand for the reserve, which is an area of fisheries waters that recognises and provides for the special relationship between tangata whenua and their traditional fishing grounds.
If approved, commercial fishing will be prohibited in the area, but recreational fishing rules will remain unchanged.
The director of fisheries management, Stuart Anderson, says mataitai are a critical part of the 1992 Fisheries Deed of Settlement that secured the settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims relating to fisheries.
The settlement confirmed obligations on the Crown to recognise and provide for Maori customary fishing rights.
The mataitai, on which formal consultation began on May 18, will extend north for 5.6km from the end of Golf Links Road, and offshore from the mean high-water mark out to 1km.
He says mataitai reserves apply only to fisheries waters and do not prevent access to the reserve area or change access to private land.
“They do not apply to land within or adjoining the boundaries of a mataitai,” he says.
“There is no effect on private landowners’ land use, property rights or land titles. The use of natural resources managed under other legislation (like the Resource Management Act 1991) are also not affected by a mataitai; this includes exercising resource consents for such things as taking water or extracting gravel or sand,” Mr Anderson says.
Tiaki (Guardians) are appointed for each mataitai. They manage the fisheries resources within that mataitai and are nominated by tangata whenua and are appointed by the Minister of Fisheries.
He says they are able to authorise customary fishing within the mataitai, authorise moving fisheries resources within the mataitai to enhance stocks, and request that the minister reinstate limited commercial fishing within the reserve.
They may also propose bylaws to the minister to restrict or prohibit fishing within all or part of a mataitai.
The bylaw-setting process includes a full public consultation process and bylaws must be approved by the minister.
Mr Anderson says proposed bylaws must be consistent with both customary food-gathering purposes and the sustainable management of the fisheries resources in the mataitai.
Bylaws can change the fishing rules about species, quantities, size limits, methods, areas, or other measures (such as catch reporting).
Like the mataitai that they apply to, bylaws do not prevent or change access to the reserve or private land, affect land use, property rights or land titles, or change resource consents granted under the Resource Management Act.
He says the formal consultation process includes public notices published in local newspapers to notify the local community that an application has been made.
There are also invitations to a public meeting and a call for written submissions.
Once the consultation is complete, Fisheries New Zealand will prepare advice to the Minister of Fisheries on the application. If the minister approves the mataitai, the decision will be publicly notified on the Fisheries New Zealand website.
Mr Anderson says, in order to declare an area a mataitai, the minister must be satisfied that several criteria have been met, including that the mataitai will not unreasonably affect the ability of the local community to take fish and aquatic life for non-commercial purposes.
Further details about mataitai are available on the Fisheries New Zealand website, fisheries.govt.nz.