Date: 19 October 2009
More larger-sized blue cod, rock lobster, blue moki and paua have been found inside Long Island–Kokomohua Marine Reserve in Queen Charlotte Sound than outside it in monitoring.
The Department of Conservation says this indicates the reserve’s ecosystem is continuing to return to a more natural state and that it is important people do not illegally fish in the marine reserve so as not to interfere with that process.
In reserve monitoring in March this year, large rock lobsters over 115 mm carapace length were found to represent 45 per cent of the lobster population in the marine reserve compared to 18 per cent at monitored sites outside it. Lobsters were also found to be 3.3 times more abundant in the marine reserve.
Blue cod larger than 300 mm are far more numerous in the reserve than outside it. Blue cod over 300 mm, the minimum legal size that can be fished in other parts of the Marlborough Sounds, represented almost 40 per cent of blue cod in the reserve in this year’s monitoring. In comparison, outside the reserve blue cod over 300 mm made up just under 17 per cent.
The findings are in a new report on monitoring of the reserve over the last six years by Davidson Environmental Ltd of Nelson for DOC. The monitoring makes comparisons between marine species at representative sample sites within the reserve and at sites outside it.
DOC Nelson/Marlborough Conservancy marine specialist Andrew Baxter said the monitoring also found larger blue moki and larger paua, especially paua over 130 mm in size, inside the reserve.
“Lobsters, blue cod and blue moki were also observed to be noticeably less wary of humans inside the reserve.
“Another intriguing result was that, for the first time in the monitoring, no very small kina were found in the reserve when sampled in 2008. This is perhaps due to predation by the large blue cod and lobsters in the reserve. We need to do further sampling to see if this is a temporary change or a developing trend.”
Mr Baxter said the results indicated the reserve ecosystem was continuing to recover since Long Island Marine Reserve was established in 1993 and fishing and taking of marine life were no longer allowed there.
“The monitoring results highlight the need for people to abide by marine reserve regulations and not fish or take marine life within reserves. As well as allowing these areas to function as sea sanctuaries and, for some species, breeding areas, marine reserve protection helps increase our knowledge of the marine environment as a whole. This enables better management of the marine environment which is in everybody’s interests.
“Fishing interferes with the natural functioning of marine reserves and our ability to fully assess what changes are occurring. People going fishing must make sure they know where marine reserve boundaries are and not fish or take marine life inside them.
“Marine reserves are something that all New Zealanders should cherish and protect.”
Media contacts: Andrew Baxter, phone: +64 3 546 3172, or Trish Grant, media advisor, phone: +64 3 546 3146.