We need a network of no-take marine sanctuaries to let parts of the Bay of Islands return to their natural state. We need them for scientific study - to provide a baseline for monitoring human impact. We need them to allow our children to learn what untouched waters are like. We need them to continue fishing for recreation and food. We need them to ensure our waters contribute to the local economy as a life-filled asset, not a dead sea.
It It is proven that no-take zones can protect and replenish marine biodiversity. We need to preserve biodiversity because that is the recipe for a healthy ecosystem and for a strong food chain. If the food chain is intact, then each species - from shrimp to snapper; from kelp to kingfish - coexists. Numbers come in to natural balance and we have a wide range of marine life to enjoy, to study and to gather for food.
If we take too much of the top predators - in the case of our reefs, snapper and crayfish - the balance is upset, the multiplicity of marine life dwindles, fish numbers fall further still. And the clock is ticking...whether we like it or not, this is all happening in our back yard. There are multiple factors involved, all of which need to be addressed, including how our fisheries are managed, catch limits, seasonal changes etc. but the first, crucial step is to establish some no-take zones in the Bay. Before it's too late.
And this is where Fish Forever comes in.
Fish Forever is a community-initiated and community-led campaign that operates as part of the Bay of Islands Maritime Park Incorporated Society with the objective to protect approximately 10% of the enclosed waters of the Bay of Islands as a network of no-take marine sanctuaries.
Once the government's commitment to supporting the establishment of a network of marine protected areas around the country was abolished in 2009, it was evident that communities would have to do the work themselves. Fish Forever emerged out of the community's desire to do just that and the consultation process began in the winter of 2010 to ensure everyone with an interest in the Bay of Islands could have their say about the future.