As a result of this consultation, the Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) Marine Mammal Sanctuary was announced on 17 November 2021. It came into effect 15 December 2021.

Sanctuary created

As a result of this consultation, the Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) Marine Mammal Sanctuary was announced on 17 November 2021. It came into effect 15 December 2021.

More about Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

Departmental advice

The departmental advice that informed the Minister of Conservation’s decision on the Sanctuary has been proactively released.

Departmental advice (PDF, 4,660K)

Parts of the advice have been redacted in accordance with the Official Information Act (OIA). Where any information has been redacted, the applicable section of OIA has been identified with the redaction.

On this page:

Submissions closed 18 May 2021

On behalf of the Minister of Conservation, DOC invited submissions on this proposal to establish a marine mammal sanctuary (MMS). Submissions closed on 18 May 2021. You can view all the submissions below.

Read the Submissions

DOC received 645 submissions on the proposal to establish a marine mammal sanctuary in Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands). All submissions and their attachments can be accessed below.

Submissions have been allocated a unique number. If a submission had supporting documentation, the supporting documentation can be found in the submission attachment documents.

Find a Submission

You can use the search function in the documents to find a particular submission. Clicking on the submission name in the content list will take you to that submission within the document.

The table at the beginning of each submission shows if the submission has supporting documents. If it does have supporting documents, they can be found in either of the submission document attachments above.

Redactions of contact details, and other information, have been made in accordance with the Official Information Act 1982.

Why new measures are proposed

The bottlenose dolphin population is declining in Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands). This area has a uniquely high levels of vessel interactions affecting all marine mammals.

The near-constant presence of people and vessels disrupts normal behaviours critical for survival, such as resting and feeding. This can cause:

  • stress
  • reduce reproductive success, and
  • make marine mammals prone to illness.

These factors may have led to high calf mortality and subsequent decline in numbers. Findings from research into the bottlenose dolphin population in Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) include:

  • The bottlenose population has declined significantly, from 278 in 1997 to 26 in 2020.
  • Of these 26 individuals, only 16 now frequently visit Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands).
  • 75% of all calves die before reaching adulthood.
  • No new calves were born during peak calving season (December to February) in 2019/20.
  • In Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands), bottlenose dolphins spend on average 86% of daylight hours in the presence of at least one vessel. After interacting with people and vessels, the dolphins take up to 6 hours to return to normal behaviour. With decreasing numbers of bottlenose dolphins, other marine mammals visiting Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) now face the same pressures as the focus shifts to them.

Video about the issues facing marine mammals in Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands).

The Marine Mammal Sanctuary Proposal was amended following public consultation

Having considered issues raised through the public submission process the Minister of Conservation decided to declare the Marine Mammal Sanctuary with the following amendments to the proposal that was notified for consultation:

  • reducing the 400 m minimum distance for people in the water and vessels to stay away from marine mammals to 300m (the “approach distance”)
  • altering the boundaries of the proposed MMS to exclude key harbours, ports, landings and anchorages from the marine mammal sanctuary
  • providing an explicit caveat to the restrictions, being “lawful authority or reasonable excuse”. Proposed exemptions are part of a non-exhaustive list of what is considered a “lawful authority or reasonable excuse”.

Providing additional specific exemptions for:

  • vessels restricted in their ability to manoeuvre, constrained by their draught, or over 500GT
  • any vessel or person actively participating in and registered in an organised event that has the prior approval of the Department of Conservation
  • any person undertaking an aquaculture activity in the intertidal zone, and
  • removing wording around using ‘all reasonable means’ to stop vessels if a marine mammal is within the approach distance, thereby removing ambiguity in the application of this restriction.

The original proposal can be read in the consultation document.

Details of the marine mammal sanctuary that has been declared, with these amendments can be found on the Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) Marine Mammal Sanctuary webpage.

NZ Gazette notice

View the NZ Gazette notice for the proposed sanctuary.

Consultation and supporting information document

The public consultation document ‘A proposal to establish a marine mammal sanctuary in Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands)’ includes more information about:

  • the problem
  • the proposal, and
  • next steps and how to make a submission.

Download the consultation document (PDF, 2,270K)

Supporting information document

The supporting information document ‘Supporting information on Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) marine mammal sanctuary proposal’ includes more information about:

  • background on development of the MMS
  • the legislative regime for a MMS
  • Treaty of Waitangi and the special relationship between the Crown and Māori and
  • impact assessment of the proposed MMS.

Download the supporting information document (PDF, 3,740K)

Whānau, hapū or iwi considerations

Ngā Hapū o te Pēwhairangi (Hapū from the Bay of Islands) representatives and Te Papa Atawhai Department of Conservation have co-designed the marine mammal sanctuary proposal through a joint hapū-Te Papa Atawhai project team.

When considering the proposal, the Minister of Conservation will have particular regard to the views of whānau, hapū and iwi who exercise kaitiakitanga in part of the common marine and coastal area subject to the MMS. This process comes from te Takutai Moana Act 2011.

What happened after submissions closed

Following the public submissions period which closed at 5 pm 18 May 2021:

  • The Minister of Conservation considered all submissions received in the consultation period. The Minister also gave particular regard to the views of whānau, hapū and iwi that exercise kaitiakitanga in the proposed sanctuary.
  • The Minister of Conservation made a decision on the proposal in accordance with relevant statutory considerations which include the purpose of the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978. The decision to declare a marine mammal sanctuary also needed the consent of the Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister of Oceans and Fisheries.
  • The sanctuary was notified in the New Zealand Gazette.
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