The Booth family have resided in the Bay of Islands for a long time...and there are quite a few of them. This band of brothers has an important thing in common: in their own way, they are all change agents, with a keen eye on the preservation of Aotearoa’s – and especially Peiwhairangi’s - native and natural beauty. Not content to accept the status quo (read: slow decline) in our environment, each has played their part in local ecological restoration – both the doing part of it as well as the tricky job of raising awareness in the community.
Since the publication of the submission report late last year (along with some encouraging press coverage) followed by our conversation with Minister Maggie Barry earlier this year, the Fish Forever team is working hard to find the best path forward to reach our goals. Our commitment is steadfast (we still want marine reserves!) but the story is multi-layered and every decision has its own set of complications.
Lena Huia Booth (12) has had a long connection with the ocean – she has been sailing with her family since she was born and learnt to snorkel when she was seven. Her family is very much entwined in the natural environment of the Bay of Islands, living on their old family land in the Kerikeri Basin, close to the water. Her father, Chris Booth, is known locally and internationally for his large-scale sculptures that consistently draw our attention to the environmental landscape. Little wonder that Lena Huia has the initiative to start her own project, casting a keen, young eye on what is going on in our waters.
John Booth © 26 March 2015
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It’s all to do with scale.
Now unequivocally immersed in the Milky Way, and getting close to Earth, we spot two quite large land masses straddling ten degrees of temperate waters half way between the Equator and the great southern white. The northernmost thrusts boldly up into the subtropics, whereas to the south of the lower one lies a scatter of tiny islands hanging on in the face of the Furious Fifties. Occasionally icebergs are visible.
John Booth © 31 August 2014
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Oh! Those mangroves. I never saw one that looked as if it possessed a decent conscience. Growing always in shallow stagnant water, filthy black mud, or rank grass, gnarled, twisted, stunted, and half bare of foliage, they seem like crowds of withered, trodden-down old criminals, condemned to the punishment of everlasting life. I can’t help if it seems fanciful. Anyone who has seen a mangrove swamp will know what I mean.1
There are still no marine reserves in the Bay of Islands. What are our next steps?
Before Christmas, Fish Forever got stuck into considering the various scenarios and potential actions that could get us to that elusive goal line. Can we apply for the marine reserves without hapu support? Should we? What about the Government’s signalled intention to reform marine legislation?
By John Booth © - 2 December 2013
Everyone has something to add. In conversations around the state of the waters of the Bay of Islands, it’s not long before the seagrass (= eelgrass) beds—or the spoiling of them—crops up. Whereas in previous times mangroves were often seen as the great ecological refuge, seagrass meadows have largely taken on that mantle—much to the relief of many who thought mangroves sucked anyway.
By John Booth 3 February 2015
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Sea urchins (kina) have eaten out much of the shallow-water kelp of the Bay of Islands, defiling the Bay's essential life force. There appears no other credible explanation for the kelp loss. Similar destruction has taken place in many other parts of New Zealand, as well as overseas. The experience is that sea urchins increase in abundance as their key predators become overfished; the sea urchins consume or destroy the kelp over the band of the urchins' depth distribution; and this leads to the collapse of natural functioning of shallow-water reef ecosystems.
Written by Fish Forever's John Booth
published in the Russell Lights Thursday 29th May 2014
No question about it. A highlight of any tiki-tour of New Zealand is when you get to rub limbs with one of our giant kauri, protected forever in its natural state within a forest remnant. Even we locals – who tend to take for granted this legacy – have our awe rekindled whenever we get to re-acquaint ourselves with one of these great spirits that link us with some remote past.