Setnets Blunder

Omaha-Beach-Walkway-17Council has made a major blunder by not to getting rid of setnets at popular Auckland beaches for this summer.

That’s the message from Rodney Local Board member Greg Sayers who has continued the fight at a local level to have setnets banned at Hatfields, Browns Bay and Omaha beaches.

A number of swimmers have been trapped by set nets which have been deployed with one end of the net attached to the shore and the other end anchored out at sea he says. Unlike normal set netting practice where fishers place the net out at sea, this way of positioning nets is far too dangerous, explains Mr Sayers.

“Already this year Council has received five complaints about this setnetting technique and it’s pure luck that nobody has drowned from being entangled in one,” he says.

Omaha beach is among those with setnet problems.

Rodneys Insite Security general manager Chris Martin, a former long-serving police detective, thinks it’s disgraceful that this practice is allowed to continue on busy holiday beaches.

“The nets are sixty metre long walls of death,” says Mr Martin. “They are totally indiscriminate in what they sneer including juvenile fish, dogs and humans”. Mr Martin is particularly concerned for young children, who if once entangled, are unlikely to have the strength to free themselves.

Set netting was banned this year at Army Bay and Te Haruhi Bay within Shakespear Regional Park during summer. A year round ban already existed at Arkles Bay.

Auckland Council’s Regulatory and Bylaws Committee approved the control that prevents set nets being laid at the Shakespear Regional Park bays between 20 December and 31 March every year.  The prohibited area extends 200m offshore.

Councilors Filipaina, Stewart and Watson voted in favor of the bans being extended to Hatsfield, Browns Bay and Omaha beaches but were defeated 3 votes to 5.

“I appreciate that the local boards and the community were keen for us to introduce a similar ban on these other locations from this year but we do need to consider other stakeholders and we need a bit more time to do this,” says committee chair, Councilor Calum Penrose.

Rodney Councilor Penny Webster agrees and told the Omaha Beach ratepayers association at its November planning forum it was not a council issue and needed to be dealt with at a national level through the Ministry of Primary Industries.

But Rodney Local Board member Greg Sayers disagrees citing it was Council’s responsibility to fix the loop hole whereby neither organization had jurisdiction for shoreline setnetting.

“Council has implemented setnetting bans already at Arkles Bay and now at another two beaches so Council already recognizes its duty in this area so it’s a fob off to suggest anything different”

“It’s time some Councilors’ listened to the people’s voice rather than pushing ideologies”

“When it comes to human life and safety, on any issue, there should be zero tolerance for such indecision, procrastination and delay,” says Mr Sayers.

Mr Sayers says other forms of shoreline recreational fishing such as surfcasting, long-lining or net dragging are not under scrutiny.

Rather than pushing the shoreline setnetting from one beach, to another without a ban, Mr Sayers would like to see this issue permanently dealt with via a total ban of the fishing method across all Auckland beaches.  He believes iwi would be supportive as the set netting technique does not seem to be a traditional Moari fishing method.