Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith departs Bluff tomorrow afternoon on the HMNZS Wellington on its annual service trip to the Bounty, Antipodes, Campbell, Auckland and Snares Islands.
“I do feel privileged to have the opportunity to visit these remote but very special parts of New Zealand. These islands are conservation treasures with unique species of penguins, albatross and sea lions, and we have a global responsibility for their protection,” Dr Smith says.
“I was involved in securing World Heritage status from UNESCO for these islands as Minister in 1998 and in leading the passage of legislation this year for new marine reserves in the area. No amount of reading can substitute for visiting an area and engaging directly with the DOC and Defence staff involved in working in this challenging environment.”
HMNZS Wellington will make its annual service trip to the subantarctic islands
Dr Smith will be launching a new pest control programme, formally opening three new marine reserves, observing species survey work, considering an appropriate response to latest sea lion pup counts, and inspecting possible sites for a new climate change research station.
Other work to be done on the voyage by DOC, Navy and MetService staff include hut and track maintenance, DNA sampling of birds and marine mammals, upgrading and maintenance of weather stations, as well as picking up DOC staff who have completed annual bird and marine mammal surveys.
The HMNZS Wellington is due back in Bluff with the Minister on 7 March.