The Porirua Harbour Trust has completed the fifth comprehensive “State of the Harbour” scorecard which reports on progress toward improving harbour condition and returning it to a healthier and more resilient state.
In releasing the fifth annual scorecard the Chairperson of the Porirua Harbour Trust, Grant Baker stated that the key concern from this year’s report is the increased level of soft fine mud in the Pauatahanui Arm. Mr Baker said that the inflow of fine mud and nutrients must be slowed. So far, despite their muddy nature, the harbour sediments are still generally well oxygenated. But sooner or later this can change and lead to nuisance algal growths and a noticeable reduction in the health of and life in the harbour. More information is required on the impact that the fine mud is having on fish species and particularly the nursery stocks in the harbour.
Continued and improved catchment management is the only way to deal with this said Mr Baker and policies and programmes need to focus on the sources and related trends in these problems and then on measures (such as accelerated planting and re vegetation) to slow and, hopefully minimize sediment laden runoff at source.
Mr Baker said it was pleasing to see a Good rating for the environmental education programme provided by the Trust and supported by the councils which targets the 51 schools across the catchment. The programme has achieved extremely well over the last year and continues to change the way our children think about our catchment and harbour.
It is also clear that the joint councils are working hard to implement the harbour strategy and they have operational plans in place to improve harbour and catchment health over time. The councils should be applauded for their effort to date and considerable ongoing commitment of resources, and Mr Baker looks forward to seeing tangible improvements in the next decade and the catchment returning to a healthier and more resilient state.
Mr Baker said that the scorecard maps and assesses five indicators related to the harbour and catchment. The scores are designed to highlight changes in key aspects of harbour and catchment healthy and to give an indication each year of progress against the Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour and Catchment Strategy and Action Plan.
The Annual Scorecard produced by the Porirua Harbour Trust is extremely important said Mr Baker. Over the last 20 years the harbour has become increasingly recognised for the wide range of values it has. The harbour is beautiful and more and more people want to live on its edges, or have views across the water to the surrounding hills. Many drive, cycle, and walk around the harbour while others enjoy recreational activities on the water as well as in the surrounding hills, while the harbour has significant cultural value to mana whenua, Ngati Toa Rangatira. The historic development and use of land around the harbour has resulted in the steady degradation of what makes the harbour special.
The Trust uses a review panel to consider data available from the Councils as well as the Trust’s own surveys and projects and comprises Grant Baker, Chairperson of the Porirua Harbour Trust; Lindsay Gow, Trustee of the Porirua Harbour Trust, and Clive Anstey Landscape and Resource Planner.
Overall the fifth “State of the Harbour” report is encouraging in respect of the plans that are in place but it will be some years before we can really say that the tide has turned for the better in restoring the harbour and the catchment to a healthy state.
The full report is available on the Porirua Harbour website under Reports