Date: 09 August 2013
The Department of Conservation (DOC) wants to know if you think Otago‘s coast needs protecting.
Otago’s coastal marine area is discussed in DOC’s recently released draft Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) for Otago. One of the issues identified in the CMS is protection of representative examples of Otago’s marine ecosystems and habitats in a network of marine protected areas.
“This would keep our marine environments healthy and ensure our special biodiversity, including the habitats of threatened wildlife, like whakahao/New Zealand sea lions and hōiho/yellow-eyed penguins, survives into the future,” DOC’s Coastal Otago Ranger Jim Fyfe said.
He pointed to the national marine protected areas gaps analysis by DOC and the Ministry of Fisheries in 2011 that shows the Otago coast is lagging behind the rest of New Zealand.
“This report shows how low the levels of marine protection in Otago are. There are major gaps in representation with only five out of the 37 habitats described for this region represented in marine protected areas in New Zealand. Very few of our habitats and special wildlife foraging habitats are protected from pressures from the marine environment,” Mr Fyfe said.
“Marine protected areas in Otago could provide important opportunities to measure the impacts of human activities and exploitation on local biodiversity, wildlife populations or the productivity of these marine habitats and the fisheries they support,” he said.
“We want the community, Ngāi Tahu, commercial and recreational fishers, conservationists, tourism operators and local councils to tell us whether they want better marine protection for the Otago coastline and what local measures should be taken to protect marine wildlife from pressures they face.”
“Do people want to help safeguard the southern marine environment for future generations?”
You can view the draft Otago CMS on the DOC website. You can have your say on marine issues by filling out a submission form on the webpage. Submissions close on 13 September 2013.
The MPA Policy and Implementation Plan was adopted by the Government in 2005 and sets out an integrated process to establish a network of marine protected areas around New Zealand. As part of this process, a report assessing the gaps in the current network of MPAs was finalised in 2011. See the DOC website to view the report.
The good news marine story is that critically threatened whakahao/New Zealand sea lions are breeding in Otago, thanks entirely to ‘Mum’ the sea lion who start this new enclave when she gave birth to a female pup at Taieri Mouth in 1994. A large part of tourism in Otago is based on wildlife viewing activities.
A CMS is a statutory document that provides strategic direction for DOC’s management of public conservation land integrating legislation, policy, strategic goals over a ten-year period. It aims, through conversations with communities, to show how natural, historic and cultural heritage of regional and local importance fit into the national context.
A CMS also:
- identifies how to integrate management of places to achieve national conservation outcomes;
- clarifies priorities for management of conservation resources;
- guides decision making (e.g. on applications to undertake commercial activities);
- describes conservation outcomes to be achieved;
- sets out a framework to increase conservation efforts over the next decade recognising that the department cannot do it alone.
The draft Otago CMS has been prepared by DOC in consultation with the Otago Conservation Board, Ngai Tahu and the community.
Draft CMSs have also been released for Canterbury and Southland.
Otago Marine Ranger
+64 3 474 6946