Thursday, July 18, 2024

Six marine reserve areas declared for south-east

The Government has today announced six new marine reserves between Oamaru and The Catlins.

Conservation Minister, Willow-Jean Prime and Oceans and Fisheries Minister, Rachel Brooking joined Kāi Tahu representatives in Dunedin today to mark the creation of the first marine reserves in the south-east South Island.

“Protecting our oceans and their biodiversity for future generations is important to this Government,” Minister Prime said.

“In August we announced our plans to protect the Hauraki Gulf. Today, we’re announcing six new marine reserves in the South Island.”

The creation of the new reserves increases the area in marine reserves around mainland New Zealand by more than two thirds, she said.

“This spectacular coastline from Oamaru to Southland is home to some of our most endangered species, like hoiho/yellow-eyed penguin, toroa/northern royal albatross and rāpoka/New Zealand sea lion.”

“It includes estuarine and tidal lagoons, rocky reefs, offshore canyons, giant kelp forests and deepwater bryozoan or lace coral thickets, and an array of marine life that were under pressure from human activity.

“Local communities have worked hard on this for more than a decade and it is a huge pleasure to be able to deliver on it for them.”

Minister Prime said close engagement with mana whenua had been important.

“I acknowledge Kāi Tahu – as kaitiaki for this spectacular coast – for their engagement in the shaping of the new marine reserves.”

“Provisions have been made for Kāi Tahu to continue to access the marine reserve areas for practices that enhance their mātauraka Māori (traditional knowledge) and retrieve koiwi tākata (ancestral remains), artefacts and marine mammal remains.

“Kāi Tahu will work in partnership with the Department of Conservation to manage the marine reserves once they are in place,” she said.

Minister Brooking said the six marine reserves were the first step in creating a network of marine protection in the area.

“From tightening the rules to around fish being discarded at sea and putting cameras on commercial fishing vessels, to stopping bottom trawling the vast bulk of the Hauraki Gulf, this is a Government that understands you can’t have a successful commercial fishing industry in an unhealthy ocean,” Ms Brooking said.

The Government is also looking at using fisheries management regulations to protect a further five areas, along with a proposed kelp protection area. Minister Brooking said 90% of more than 4,000 submissions had shown there was broad backing for the proposed network.

The Government has also created nine new mātaitai reserves this year, bringing the total number to 66.

Latest Articles