Characterising fisheries and other marine harvesting in the Bay of Islands, with ecological consequences, from first human settlement to the present
Recent publication highlights perilous ecological state of the marine waters of the Bay of Islands
A report written by Fish Forever’s John Booth and recently published by the Ministry of Primary Industries underscores the appalling state of the shallow-reef kelp forests of the Bay of Islands.
Much of the shallow-reef kelp (down to about 5 m) of the main basin of the Bay has been overgrazed and is now kina barren.
‘Losses were apparent by the 1970s, and today Bay of Islands presents one of the most extreme and extensive areas of ‘sea-urchin barren’ in all the country. The loss of significant areas of shallow-reef kelp is likely to have led to a multitude of cascading consequences, most of them not yet recognised or understood.’
‘In northeast New Zealand, (mainly) commercial fishing had, by the mid-1980s, reduced the biomass of snapper (and probably other predatory finfish species), and rock lobsters, to less than one quarter of their unfished state. Consequently, freed from the pressure of their main predators, sea-urchin grazing burgeoned, resulting in loss of much of the shallow-reef kelp in places like the Bay of Islands. Ongoing intense recreational fishing pressure, together with the commercial effort, within and near the Bay of Islands means little or no recovery of the kelp is likely in the near future.’
Although a particular focus of this report is the state of the shallow-reef kelp of the Bay of Islands, harvest trajectories for fish and shellfish, and the loss of seabirds and marine mammals, from the time of first settlement around 1300 AD to the present, are also described. There were many early extinctions; various marine mammals and seabirds remain to this day on the cusp of extinction.
John was a shellfish research scientist with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, with interest in recruitment processes in spiny lobsters. He has been published widely in local and international science journals, and contributed to several books, on spiny lobsters and other invertebrates. He was a member of the Subantarctic Marine Protection Planning Forum which led to the establishment of MPAs around Campbell, Bounty and Antipodes Islands.
Marvellous Maunganui Bay
by John Booth, Chris Richmond, Robert Willoughby
Black Rocks and Te Pahi coast reefs
Black Rocks and the Te Pahi Islands coast reefs, Bay of Islands: Significant Ecological Marine Area Assessment Sheet. By Northland Regional Council, 2017
Urchin barren & algal zonation
Urchin barrens and algal community zonation; a transect based study, Maunganui Bay and Cape Brett. By Vince Kerr
Maunganui Habitat Report
Waewaetorea Habitat Report
Marine habitats of the proposed Waewaetorea Marine Reserve. By Vince Kerr and Roger Grace, 2015
Geology & physical oceanography
Application of Geology and Physical Oceanography to Marine Reserve Determination, Ipipiri, Eastern Bay of Islands. By Jeremy Gibb, 2012
7 Centuries Harvesting of BOI Fish & Shellfish
Ecological Upshot of Seven Centuries’ Harvesting of Bay of Islands’ Fish and Shellfish. By John Booth, 2015
Wrecked Reefs - shallow-reef kelp loss
Wrecked Reefs: just where does the buck stop for shallow-reef kelp loss in the Bay of Islands? By John Booth, 2016
Flagging kelp a potent symbol of loss
Flagging kelp: potent symbol of loss of mauri in the Bay of Islands. By John Booth, 2015
Transformed shores: those mangroves!
Transformed shores: those mangroves! By John Booth, 2014
Bay of Islands Seagrass: our last goodbye?
Seagrass in the Bay of Islands: our last goodbye? By John Booth, 2013