Date: 10 March 2013 Source: Office of the Minister of Conservation
Minister of Conservation Dr Nick Smith today announced at the Bluegreens Forum in Levin he has formally approved the new Kahurangi, Punakaiki, Okarito, Tauparikaka and Hautai marine reserves totalling 17,500 hectares on the West Coast.
“These five new marine reserves were unanimously recommended by the West Coast Marine Protection Forum involving Ngāi Tahu, commercial and recreational fishers, conservationists, tourism operators and councils. It is a real tribute to the Forum that in a region where conservation issues over forests, coal, gold and hydro development have caused so much conflict that a consensus has been found on marine conservation,” Dr Smith says.
“There are currently no marine reserves along the West Coast north of Fiordland. These reserves will enhance understanding of the regions unique marine habitats and complement the adjoining protected areas on land, including three national parks and the Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
“This is a major step forward for marine conservation as it increases the number of mainland marine reserves from 30 to 35, boosting the area protected by 50 per cent from 33,574 to 51,102 hectares.
The Department of Conservation publicly notified these new reserves last year after they were agreed by the West Coast Marine Forum. There were 159 submissions received on the proposals – 155 in favour with four objections. The Marine Reserves Act requires the Minister of Conservation, after considering the submissions, to decide whether to uphold any of the objections, or to proceed. The decision to proceed means the process now goes to the final stage of seeking the concurrence of the Ministers of Primary Industries and Transport to enable the reserves to be surveyed and gazetted later this year.
“We are a nation with some of the most spectacular and unique coastlines in the world and we need to recognise the importance and value of not only our special places on land, but our marine habitats as well.”
Rachael Bruce, +64 21 841 087