Pania Reef and seafloor ecology

As part of its new 6 Wharf construction, a limestone revetment wall at Napier Port has been dismantled and repurposed to create an artificial reef in two locations out in Hawke Bay: 1.4km north-east of Pania Reef and at the Gwen B shipwreck site. 

The reef is a collaborative project between the Port and recreational fisher group, LegaSea Hawke’s Bay, with the intention to provide more habitat for our local marine life and simultaneously a drawcard for recreation. 

“This reef will help boost recreational fishing and diving opportunities by providing structure and habitat for a wide variety of marine life,” explains LegaSea spokesperson, Brian Firman, who views the formation of the reef as a “massive milestone” for the group. 

“Just a few rocks in an otherwise sparse area will not only assist breeding and protection for juvenile fish, but support a surprising diversity of species, including shellfish, crayfish, seaweed and fish.” 

‘Just a few rocks’ has so far seen the Port deposit 15,000 tonnes of limestone boulder on the seafloor at Pania, and 1,400 tonnes alone at the Gwen B last Friday (29 Jan).

In yesterday’s media release, Port CEO Todd Dawson says, “This project represents a unique balance of environmental, cultural and economic successes, and given the new reef will help to replenish our fisheries we see it as a gift to the wider Hawke’s Bay community that will keep on giving for years to come.”

Indeed, everyone I’ve spoken with in the marine space over the last few months sees the reef project (as part of the 6 Wharf construction and dredging programme) as a good thing and the process and outcome as an example of genuine participatory engagement; the kind of collaborative approach they would like to see more of. (The Port also worked on this with the Mana Whenua Steering Komiti – a group of local marae, hapū and mana whenua entities – and the wider Fisheries Liaison Group.)

The Port’s environmental advisor, Paul Rose, claims, “From a sustainability perspective, this is a big win for Hawke’s Bay’s marine environment and hopefully an example others can follow across New Zealand.”

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1 Comment

  1. Sounds good.
    Why are these more acceptable than the ones Mr Dallimore has been trying to get accepted for years (to protect Westshore from erosion)?

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