Protecting the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park
© Darryl Torckler

Protecting the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park

Marine biodiversity in the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana is critically important to Aotearoa New Zealand, but is in a state of sustained and dramatic decline

The Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana is a taonga for Aotearoa, distinguished by its unique features and values. It is one of the most heavily utilised coastal areas in Aotearoa New Zealand and has significant historical and cultural importance for tangata whenua, and a long history of commercial and recreational use.

Climate change and human activity – both on land and at sea – has taken an incredible toll on the health and mauri of the Gulf, leaving habitats and biodiversity in the Hauraki Gulf in a state of dramatic decline. In order to safeguard the Gulf for future generations, we must allow its marine ecosystems and resident native biodiversity to recover and build resilience.

© Darryl Torckler/WWF

Protecting the Gulf for future generations

The Hauraki Gulf is on the brink of ecological collapse. Overfishing, habitat loss, pollution, sedimentation, and the effects of poorly planned urban development have led to a 57 percent decline in key fish stocks, a 67 percent decline in seabirds, and a 97 percent decline in whales and dolphins in the Gulf. Snapper and crayfish populations are functionally extinct in some areas. 

The creation of new marine protected areas in the Hauraki Gulf is essential to protecting and restoring its environment, as well as benefitting the communities and industries that rely on the Gulf for their livelihoods. 

The Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill seeks to establish 2 marine reserves, 5 seafloor protection areas, and 12 high protection areas in the Hauraki Gulf, acknowledging customary rights within seafloor protection areas and high protection areas. WWF is advocating for the progress of this legislation as it is crucial to turn the tide on nature loss in the Gulf and work towards achieving 30% marine protection by 2030.

Mobile bottom contact fishing

Unsustainable fishing is one of the biggest threats to the Hauraki Gulf. The Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan seeks to improve the sustainability of fisheries management in the Gulf, including embracing an ecosystem-based approach. However there are concerns regarding the potential for mobile bottom contact fishing methods to continue.

Mobile bottom contact fishing methods like bottom trawling, scallop dredging and Danish seining are destructive fishing methods that have been taking place in the Hauraki Gulf for decades. These indiscriminate fishing methods bulldoze everything in their path and releases tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process. Harmful fishing methods have significantly degraded the benthic habitats that are crucial to the health of the Gulf.

There is currently a proposal aimed at reducing the use of these methods by excluding them from the Hauraki Gulf, except within defined areas called bottom fishing access zones or trawl corridors. The science clear. Mobile bottom contact fishing is detrimental to biodiversity, benthic habitats and the environment and continuing the use of these methods in designated areas is not good enough.

With climate change impacts looming, we can not afford to let these methods continue. WWF alongside our partners in the Hauraki Gulf Alliance have been advocating for a complete ban of these harmful fishing methods in the Hauraki Gulf to allow marine ecosystems and resident native biodiversity to recover and build resilience. 

Find out more

Hauraki Gulf


WWF-New Zealand submissions to Parliament and Fisheries New Zealand on proposed changes to the Hauraki Gulf

Blue maomao


WWF-New Zealand welcomes the announcement of special legislation to turn the tide on nature loss in the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana through the creation of new marine protection areas (MPAs), alongside the development of a bespoke regional Fisheries Plan

Marine Protected Area


Hauraki Gulf Alliance petitions Parliament to protect the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park from destructive fishing practices