The planning forum for marine protected areas on the south east coast of the South Island has met for the first time.
In a two day meeting at Otākou marae (30 June - 1 July), members of the South-East Marine Protection Planning Forum/Roopu Manaaki ki te Toka began planning for a major community and business consultation process on a suite of management measures to protect key sites, habitats and species from Timaru down to Waipapa Point in Southland.
Forum chair Maree Baker-Galloway hopes as many people as possible will get involved. The forum wants to understand the history of the marine environment, what has changed, what people value about it, what the threats are to those values and what communities want to see happen to their marine environments in the future.
"The forum will have a comprehensive programme of community engagement because we want our final recommendations to have the fullest possible support from people who use and love our coastal waters."
"We urge local people to keep an eye out for meetings and events and come along over the next 6 - 12 months. We'll also have a web and social media presence. We want to give everyone who has something to say the opportunity to do so."
The forum has been created with support from the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries, and its membership represents a broad spread of interested parties, including iwi, community groups, and fisheries, science, tourism and environmental interests.
The forum's work should take about two years, and will include an initial listening and information gathering phase followed by a formal submission process. The forum will then finalise its recommendations on management measures to protect key sites, habitats and species for the Ministers of Conservation and Primary Industries to consider.
Viewing hide, yellow-eyed penguin habitat at Moeraki Peninsula in Otago