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Iwi impose a shellfish ban

external image PipiWaikatoTimes21Feb09.jpg
SHUTTING SHOP: David Apiti puts up a sign to stop shellfish gathering in Aotea Harbour. Peter McLean looks out over the severely depleted pipi beds.

||= Article by JEFF NEEMS - Waikato Times | Saturday, 21 February 2009
==Iwi impose a shellfish ban==
Kawhia iwi have placed their own restriction on pipi collection at Aotea Harbour, saying the resource has been "thrashed" by out-of-towners and is now severely depleted.
Signs erected at the beachfront on Wednesday advised of the ban, the first the iwi has implemented in the area.
Davis Apiti, of Okapu Marae and Ngati Te Wehi kaitiaki (guardian), said the pipi beds at Aotea Harbour had been hammered by shellfish collectors "just taking everything", including juvenile specimens and pipi numbers well in excess of limits.
"It's been going on for two years now to the point where we're getting nothing. Something has got to be done," Mr Apiti said.
"We welcome people to come in, but if the locals can't get anything ... we can't feed the whole of New Zealand," he said.
Mr Apiti said up to 40 people at a time were taking shellfish from the harbour beds, resulting in a severely depleted resource. The community felt it was time for it to be temporarily closed.
"We've got the backing of the villagers," he said. "We wouldn't act on anything unless the villagers are behind us."
He had been advised by local Fisheries Ministry staff member that iwi should follow the correct procedure to apply for a closure. But Mr Apiti there was also some frustration that any closure through official Fisheries Ministry channels would need to go through the minister, and take up to three months a period he felt was too long.
"The closure should come from the village, and if we think it needs to be closed, we close it, and the process should take place from there."
He believed the pipi beds should to be closed for eight months to regenerate.
Mr Apiti made a public assurance no one would be physically removed from the area for flouting the restriction. The iwi wanted to inform people of the situation to protect the resource. "It's about education and protection, and making them aware the resource will not be there forever if we have those numbers going there."
A similar situation with pipi bed depletion had occurred in 1996, "and yet it hasn't changed", he added.
Fisheries Ministry inshore fisheries manager Sarah Omundsen said she was surprised and disappointed by the iwi action, but confirmed iwi were within their rights to put the rahui in place.
Aotea Harbour has mataitai reserve status, which gives iwi substantial control and say in managing the fishery resources.

Waitomo News, 19 February 2009 (Front Page)

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Aotea activist fined

(Waitomo News, Tuesday, December 19, 2000)

Environment Waikato has fined Aotea Harbour activist Davis Apiti $757 for digging trenches in the harbour foreshore to prevent commercial fishers launching their boats into the harbour.

Mr Apiti last week told the Waitomo News he plans to contest the fine.

He has previously admitted to the Waitomo News (June 13) he dug trenches to prevent commercial fishers entering the harbour. Mr Apiti says they are wiping out the seafood resources of the harbour, the physical and cultural life-blood of the tangata whenua.

However, Mr Apiti denies responsibility for a recent incident where a fisher's vehicle at the harbour had its tyres slashed.

Group pushes for harbour protection
Group pushes for harbour protection

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Maori vow to protect pipi beds

Waitomo News
Marae protect Aotea seafood
Marae protect Aotea seafood