Fur seal pups

Image: John Barkla


The New Zealand government is committed to protecting our valuable marine biodiversity. Work is underway to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas on the south-east coast of the South Island – from Timaru to Waipapa Point.


In February 2018, after nearly four years of work, the South-East Marine Protection Forum (the Forum) provided a recommendations report to the Minister of Conservation and the Minister of Fisheries with two network options for them to consider.

In March 2019, Ministers announced their decisions and outlined the statutory processes that will be followed.

View the media release 11 May 2019.

The proposed network

The Minister of Conservation and Minister of Fisheries have agreed to progress Network 1 as set out in the Forum’s recommendations report because it best meets the objectives of the Marine Protected Areas Policy (PDF, 809K).

Ministers believe this option will create the best protection for important habitats found in the South Island’s south-eastern coastal area including foraging areas for marine mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates.

DOC and Fisheries New Zealand will now work to progress the proposed network under the Fisheries Act (1996) and the Marine Reserves Act (1971).

The Marine Reserves Act requires public notification of an application for an Order in Council (OIC) to declare a marine reserve. The Department of Conservation will prepare the application for an OIC based on the Forum’s Recommendations Report. The Fisheries Act requires public consultation as part of its process.

DOC and Fisheries New Zealand will undertake consultation with tangata whenua, stakeholders and the public.

Agencies will also continue to work with Kāi Tahu to explore their aspirations for establishing and managing Marine Protected Areas in the region. This includes what co-management of the proposed Marine Protected Areas will look like.

What's happening now

The next step towards establishing a network of Marine Protected Areas on the South Island’s south-east coast is public consultation.

While the South-East Marine Protection Forum consulted widely before making their recommendations, the public has not been consulted on the network in its current form.

Ministers want to ensure they have a good understanding of public perspectives on the proposed network before making a final decision.

DOC and the Fisheries New Zealand are currently working on establishing a process for public consultation that will involve tangata whenua, the community and stakeholders.

We will provide more information on the consultation process when it is available.

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