Significant increases in the abundance and size of marine species in Tasman Bay marine reserves confirm their conservation benefits, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith said today while publicly releasing a new research report at the Horoirangi Marine Reserve north of Nelson.
“It is so encouraging to see the irrefutable evidence of the success of these marine reserves especially given my extensive involvement in both these reserves being established. These results reinvigorate my ambition to create a record number of new marine reserves this year,” Dr Smith says.
“This new research shows that 20 years after the Tonga Island Marine Reserve was created, there are more than seven times as many crayfish and 40 times as many blue cod over 30 centimetres. In the Horoirangi Marine Reserve, which was created in 2006, crayfish are 3.5 times more abundant, and a third of blue cod are over 30 centimetres compared to just 1.7 per cent outside the reserve.
A third of blue cod in the Horoirangi Marine Reserve are over 30 centimetres
“These changes are impressive and show how marine ecosystems improve without the pressure of fishing. It increases our knowledge of the marine environment, enables people to enjoy recreational activities in areas with more abundant marine life, and can provide fishing benefits in adjacent areas.
“We will be doing more marine research in the future with the expansion of DOC’s partnership with Air New Zealand. The airline is providing $7.4 million in funding for conservation, of which $1 million was dedicated to expanding DOC’s research to cover entire marine reserve ecosystems.
“The marine environment is the new frontier for conservation. Historically, the focus has been on land but we now know that 80 per cent of the species that are unique to New Zealand are in our seas. New Zealand has some of the most spectacular and unique coastlines and oceans in the world and we need to do more to protect them.”