I’m picking that the active opposition of Forest and Bird to TCDC’s Mangrove Management Bill will be pivotal in consigning this ridiculous proposal to the dustbin of history. Not only has their intervention been the catalyst for over 1000 members of the public making a submission opposing the Bill, but they’ve also highlighted how the Council has tried to block legitimate attempts by Forest and Bird to extract essential official information.
In addition, F & B have made a comprehensive well-reasoned submission on both legal and ecological issues which I think will be compelling for the Select Committee when it hears submissions in Wellington, and in Thames on the 16th March. Some of the key points from the submission –
Any mangrove clearance carried out under this stupid Bill would be exempt from the Crimes Act, the Health and Safety at Work Act, the Employment Relations Act, the Official Information Act just to name a few. When asked by F&B exactly which laws would override the proposed Mangroves Act, Thames-Coromandel District Councils’ legal officer confirmed on Friday that, “there is currently no such list of legislation”. Embarrassing!
The submission asks who would be held accountable if large-scale mangrove removal resulted in coastal communities becoming inundated in the next major storm?
F&B also totally rubbish the suggestion by the Council’s that the spread of mangroves in the Firth of Thames has affected the feeding grounds of migratory birds. It simply hasn’t.(see Appendix A to the submission)
Also, F&B have discovered that earlier drafts of the Bill were much more nuanced and do not take the hard-line promotion of removal of mangroves at all cost approach in the Bill submitted to Parliament. Who influenced that approach I wonder?
In summary, the submission states
“The Bill will not sustainably manage mangroves or provide for integrated management of the coast. It is incompatible with New Zealand’s international obligations for wetlands, and overrides key environmental and human safety-focused legislation. It is poorly drafted, lacks appropriate mechanisms such as compliance monitoring and enforcement procedures and sets up direct legislative and policy conflicts.”
As I pointed out in an earlier blog, mangroves play a vital role in coastal hazard protection from storm surges and erosion. If you are still doubtful about this, take a look at this video of a wave tank simulation showing how mangroves massively dissipate wave energy.
As a ratepayer in the District I’m highly embarrassed that our Mayor and CEO and most of our councillors (thankfully not all) are so fixated on pleasing a few well-heeled Whangamata harbour ratepayers that they have wasted everyone’s time with this silly proposal.