What unites this team of local volunteers is a shared commitment to protect the diversity of marine life in the Bay of Islands. The Fish Forever team comprises people with a variety of skills and personalities, providing a mixture of vision, experience and energy.
Kerikeri is his lifetime home town, the wider Bay of Islands' forests, fields, rivers, coastline and off shore islands are his lifeblood. Having lived, breathed, walked, explored, sailed, snorkelled, inspired and lived as an environmental sculptor he has witnessed first hand the rapid man-made degradation of this unique environment - so evident in our sea.
Fish Forever, with its dedicated team of experts and passionate environmentalists, provides a real platform to seriously help the turn-around from the brink of an underwater wasteland, to a burgeoning healthy biodiverse salt water ecosystem once again.
Until recently 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.
Ria is a secondary school teacher originating from Wellington. She fell in love with the gentle Bay of Islands, and decided to raise the children here. Ria's concern for the local marine life grew as she heard more people lamenting the lack of fish and smaller sizes compared to by-gone days: "Our Bay is why this area is so special - it needs protecting - simple as that!"
Karen grew up at the beach in the Hauraki Gulf, snorkeled with the sprats while dreaming of being Jacques Cousteau, became a marine biologist and ended up in Wellington working in Fisheries Research (MAF/NIWA) on orange roughy stock assessments, including many months at sea on deepwater fisheries research surveys.
Karen brings her experience in fisheries management and government processes to Fish Forever, reminding us about the importance of submissions and translating complex fisheries science into stories we can all understand.
“I am committed to restoring marine ecosystems so future generations can experience the same undersea wonders I did as a child, or actually, let’s make them even better than that, they were already pretty compromised by the 1960s.”
Derry has been heavily involved in Marine Biology particularly in the Bay of Islands area and was part of two previous attempts to set up a marine reserve in the Bay - he's pleased to be involved in this very impressive project and the team is delighted to be able to draw on his historical experience to help Fish Forever be successful. Derry is known locally for teaching nearly everyone to sail when they were children.
Catherine moved to the Bay of Islands in 2007 quite by accident and lived on a houseboat for two years. Formerly, she ran the marketing and communications department for an international architecture practice in London and now uses skills gained from this role to support small businesses in the area.
Chris has been professionally involved with protecting and repairing aquatic habitats since 1971. After embracing scuba diving in 1988 he took on protecting fish populations as well. He’s been involved in marine reserve establishment or monitoring at several sites in New Zealand and overseas. He and Vicky produced the underwater DVD, “Like more Fish” about Kapiti Marine Reserve in 2004. In the Bay he has been active in Russell Landcare, BOIMP, Baycare and Fish Forever as well as exploring the marine environments between Whangaroa and Poor Knights.
Brett is a biologist and commercial diver with the Fish Forever team. Brett grew up in Kerikeri and become inspired about marine reserves after being taken to Goat Island by his Dad when he was about 7 years old "I just couldn't believe there were snapper swimming in front of my mask, it's not something I'd ever seen before". After a stint in the army he became a professional diver in tourism and construction and got a BSc in marine science. His work has included environmental monitoring of the Rena, consulting to the Oil and Gas sector regarding minimising impacts of construction operations on turtles, dugongs and humpback whales, the Fiordland Undaria programme, and working on the marine biosecurity programme for the Northland Regional Council.
He would love to see a reserve in the Bay so people could have the opportunity to see just how diverse and abundant our local marine life should be and believes that just as there is a right to fish, there also should be a right for snorkelers, divers, photographers, scientists and anyone to observe ecosystems unaffected by fishing. Whenever he has the chance he helps out with the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme to give kids just that opportunity.
Wendy is a tour de force campaigner who incorporates her eco-philosophy into everyday life. During many hours of volunteering for Fish Forever she has shown absolute commitment to the campaign objectives and has been a key driving energy for the team. She has sailed around the globe with her family (with plans afoot to do it again soon).
Dean is a lifelong fisherman who fell in love with the Bay as a teen. He moved here from the Taranaki and worked on game-fishing charter boats during the 1980s. His interest in marine conservation was sparked snorkelling at the Poor Knights: “Clouds of fish surrounded me; I swam with huge snapper, kingfish and stingrays. When I got back on board my perspective had changed and I realised why we need no-take areas.” Dean is a photographer and web designer; he designed the Fish Forever website and provides the team with great IT skills.
Jochen is a marine scientist with a life-long passion for the oceans and their conservation. His work focusses on the ecology of New Zealand's offshore dolphins, in particular the little known false killer whale. Originally from Germany, Jochen fell in love with the Bay of Islands in 1997 and has lived here ever since. He runs sailing charters to support his research.
The Bay of Islands Maritime Park group was established in May 2006. It became an incorporated society on 21st Sept 2007 to allow the active working groups to apply for funding so projects could get underway that would really make a difference to our marine environment. The group was established to help bring together the multiplicity of small community groups in the region and create an integrated approach to target some of the most pressing issues that face our coastal waters.