Doubtless Bay Marine Protection Group worked with our community from 2003 - 2015 to help protect our Bay for our childrens’ children.

We are proud of what we achieved towards:

  • Locals managing the local marine environment

  • Conserving and protecting our special coastal ecosystems

  • Clean waterways from the hills to the sea

  • Helping collaborate towards a wholistic Community Marine Management Plan, to be actioned by locals for the future of our Bay.

This website documents our work as a resource for folks with fresh energy working to take it into the future.

Everyone has to give something up now to gain much for the future…


Our full list of the Achievements of our group from 2003 to 2018 are here on this page

Statement of Intent

Currently Doubtless Bay is part of Ministry of Fisheries Area 1 from North Cape to East Cape. Local management and control is very limited, we were always asked when will something happen?

Our community consistently supported the following;

Local control and management of our Tokerau / Doubtless Bay working alongside Ngati Kahu who have mana Moana

Priority of local recreational fishers over commercial fishers in our Bay

Doubtless Bay/ Tokerau Living Sea Community Marine Management Plan; recognising and preserving the many special features of our Bay. Incorporating local management, marine reserves, voluntary fishing code, Maori traditional and legislative tools such as Rahui (like 186 closures) at certain periods eg fish spawning seasons, Tapu (like Marine Reserve), Mataitai and Taiapure and of course clean waterways.

Local young people able to experience untouched thriving marine environments here in our Bay, without having to travel 4 hours away to Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island) or offshore to Tawhiti Rahi / Poor Knights Marine Reserve.

Recognising and monitoring the range of very different marine ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots we have in our Bay

Voluntary Fishing Code to protect spawning and take less trophy fish

Network of 10% of our Bay being no-take marine reserves with flow on effect to the surrounding 90% of the Bay

Our full 3 page Statement of Intent 2011 is here

Our Marine Habitat

Doubtless Bay / Tokerau has many special ecological marine features in a warm northern environment; sandy beaches facing north, east and south reefs and rocks northland rocky shores facing north, east, west and south

Recreational fishing pressure can be high particularly in summer Commercial fishing pressure is almost totally unsupported by local recreational fishers and residents

Marine problems in our Bay include:

  • high sedimentation rates from the inland catchment hills via rivers in flood high Phospate and Nitrogen rates in harbours after rain run-off

  • Virtually no local management or control

  • Recreational fishers do not have priority over commercial fishers

  • Some commercial fishing methods are severely detrimental to our local fishery eg gill netting, long lines

  • Land catchment management directly affects the water quality of our streams, rivers, harbours and sea eg siltation of Mangonui Harbour, fecal contamination of estuaries and beaches affecting shellfish gathering

  • Scallop/ tupu beds have been decimated by commercial dredging and siltation eg Mill Bay and Tokerau Beach

  • Fish, shellfish and crayfish (both lobster and packhorse) stocks are well down on several generations ago

  • Biodiversity has declined particularly for top trophic feeders such as larger pack horse crays and kingfish

  • Range of larger marine species found here has reduced eg pack horse crayfish, resident kingfish in Mangonui Harbour, barracuda, hapuka

  • Quota Management System implemented by Ministry of Fisheries to preserve fish stocks is failing the total ecosystem

  • Increased “kina barren” areas where kelp forests are reduced to sand desert. The main cause is a severe reduction in top feeders such as large snapper and large crayfish which keep the kina in balance. The kelp forests are the nurseries for young fish and paua, while also harbouring crayfish.

  • Rubbish continues to build up on the sea floor and harbours eg lead sinkers, old fishing line, nets and household refuse.

  • Our harbour and estuaries continue to gain sediment from upstream land erosion

  • Marine educational opportunities for our young people and community are limited locally. The closest untouched marine environments are the Goat Island Marine Reserve at Leigh and offshore at the Poor Knights / Tawhiti rahi and Aorangi

More about our Doubtless Bay Marine Habitat:

Doubtless Bay Marine Habitat Study 2005

Doubtless Bay Marine Habitat Map Set 2005

Doubtless Bay Marine Habitat Presentation 2005

Beach Shell Survey Tokerau Beach 2010

Taipa Beach

Our Bay in the past

What was our moana and the harvesting of kai moana and fishing like in the past?

Anecdotal evidence and oral history from older folks in our community is the only way for us to know this about our Bay. Only people aged over 60 years old could have had a true experience of what our Bay was once like.

Local records show we no longer see the abundance of paua, scallops, crayfish and packhorse crayfish, hapuka, schools of spawning snapper up estuaries, sharks, kingfish, big flounder, schools of mullet up rivers …. Information about species and numbers of fish that were caught, and the abundance of the harvest of kaimoana has shown us that we have lost a lot.

Our Oral History project in 2010 was an important step in recording our local marine environment evidence. You can view it here.

Our community survey showed that 73% of respondents had noted a decline in our local marine environment. There is a sense of urgency now, or future generations will not be able to experience what our grandparents did.

Recognising what species and undersea environments we have damaged and lost, gives valuable baselines for us to work towards having a more thriving Living Sea in Doubtless Bay.

Experience shows that it takes 10 to 20 years of full protection for a more fully functioning marine ecosystem to develop.

We are thankful that the first Doubtless Bay Marine Habitat Mapping Project was completed in 2005 by Roger Grace and Vince Kerr.

See more about what our Bay was like in the past:

What was the fishing like in Doubtless Bay - Oral History Project by Mary Ralph 2010

What have we lost? Kaimoana changes 2011

Our Community Wants

What our community wants for our marine environment:

Our survey results showed:

  • The respondents were nearly all local people, having been here at least 5 years and all enjoyed some form of recreational use of the Bay.

  • 8 respondents were commercial operators in the Bay, but only one or two of these were commercial fishers.

  • Concerns about the poor quality of fresh water entering the Bay at times was a major issue, and also the lack of completely natural areas in the Bay is a concern.

  • 91% are in favour of a Marine Reserve with most agreeing that 10% or more of the area of Doubtless Bay would be good. Only 4 % did not want any marine reserves.

  • 90 % people felt Maori and Pakeha should work together better on behalf of the marine environment, and that local people should having control of the fishery here.

  • 23 % supported a commercial fishing ban in our Bay.

  • There was small but significant support for no fishing during spawning season.

  • About half of the people had an opinion on where a marine reserve could go:

    Mangonui Harbour – 2

    Mangonui to Aurere - 14

    Berghans to Knuckle out to half the bay – 14 Whatuwhiwhi to Knuckle Point – 7

    Maitai Bay to Cape Karikari – 19 Whatuwhiwhi to Aurere – 15

Very few people identified more than one area in the Bay for a reserve.

Overview about our questionnaire results

Vince Kerr (marine biologist) commented that our results are reasonably typical for similar surveys with a 5% return rate being fairly standard. He feels that giving the community some sort of say is important and we have done this. The media coverage is valuable for general community awareness. We can still engage the community and give out our document and take questionnaires in.

A survey can have Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, for example Kamo High School ran a survey over 10 years and have 2200 responses – the largest response in NZ.

See more about what our community wants:

Improve our marine life for now and future generations 2008

Questionnaire Actual Results 2009

Voluntary Fishing Code Draft 2012

Summary of Marine Protection Options 2008

Community Marine Mangement Plan Discussion Document Full 2005

Community Marine Mangement Plan Discussion Document Summary 2005


About Us

This archive shows the active work and mahi that many locals put in 2003 - 2015 towards a Living Sea in Doubtless Bay / Tokerau for the benefit of present and future generations.

We acknowledge the instruction from Kaumatua, Kuia, and other elders in our community, that we had at our meetings in the early days for the kaupapapa of marine protection in our Bay. Particularly remembered are Uncle Taki (John Matthews) and Paki Tukariri from Kenana, Dave Panckhurst from Coopers Beach and Anthea Goodwin from Kohumaru then latterly Mill Bay, and Roger Grace, all who supported our kaupapa until they passed away. We hope our community can fulfil their wishes in future.

We have been heartened by some recent local initiatives that are working towards this aim.

Doubtless Bay Marine Protection Group Charitable Incorporated Society was disbanded in 2020. We gifted our remaining funds through the Mountains to the Sea Charitable Trust to the group working towards a more vibrant marine environment in Maitai Bay at Karikari.