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Underwater Association Welcomes Marine Reserve

New Zealand Underwater Association Welcomes Marine Reserve

New Zealand Underwater is ecstatic about the creation Te Matuku Bay marine reserve at Waiheke Island The reserve was announced by the Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, over the weekend.

The Te Matuku Bay marine reserve at Waiheke Island is the second marine reserve to be created this year. This reserve will add to a slowly evolving network of Marine Reserves within The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

“The New Zealand Underwater Association supports the creation of a representative network of marine reserves over ten percent of New Zealand’s marine area”, says the Association’s Environmental Coordinator, Peter Crabb. “The Te Matuku Bay marine reserve at Waiheke Island is another step towards that goal”.

In the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2000, the government signalled their intention to protect ten percent of New Zealand’s marine area by the year 2010. “A second marine reserve this year, shows that this government is committed to the task of creating marine protected areas and so far honouring their pledge to make this a number one priority”, said Chris Carter speaking at a special Seaweek event in Tutukaka on 15th March

While the Auckland Islands marine reserve announced earlier this year is a wonderful addition to a network of marine reserves, more reserves in accessible coastal areas are urgently needed, the New Zealand Underwater Association believes.

“This is timely for us because New Zeland Underwater is putting together an application to create a marine reserve in the waters around Tiritiri Matangi Island and the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. These are areas that come under a lot of recreational fishing pressure and have had a modified ecology from over-fishing for decades”, said Mr Crabb”. Mr Carter mentioned, “that the gazetting of marine reserves creates economic opportunities, biodiversity opportunities, breeding stock conservation and are a win-win situation for all involved””. The majority of recreational anglers don’t seem to be able to see this bigger picture”, Mr Crabb said.

New Zealand’s two largest marine reserves – The Kermadec Islands and Auckland Islands Marine Reserves – are hundreds of kilometres away from the New Zealand mainland. The fifteen small marine reserves in our coastal waters make up only 0.1 percent of our coastal marine area.

“The need for marine reserves has been recognised and it is fitting that reserves can be created with “existing use rights” like those of oyster farms, sewage outfalls and the activities of the Armed Forces. “because If we let the activites of some stake holders confuse or stall the process the opportunity to save 80% of New Zealand’s biodiversity may be put in the “too-hard basket” indefinitely”, and this issue needs the urgency that it is finally getting, Mr Crabb said.

ENDS

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