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Decision On Proposed Marine Reserve

Conservation Minister Announces Her Decision On Proposed Marine Reserve

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has marked Sea Week by announcing her approval of a 4th marine reserve for the Auckland region. Two other Cabinet Ministers must now reach similar decisions for it to be established.

"I have decided to approve a proposal for a marine reserve at Te Matuku Bay, Waiheke Island," Ms Lee said.

“Te Matuku Bay and the adjacent coastal waters form an outstanding coastal ecosystem. It is an ideal site for a marine reserve and will greatly benefit the protection of estuarine and marine biodiversity.”

"I know the proposal, put up by the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society, has the support of many local residents."

“The main adjoining landowner, Mr Rob Fenwick, was a strong supporter of the reserve and had agreed that the reserve boundary extend across a portion of his land lying in the tidal zone. This is a generous gesture and one appreciated by me.”

Ms Lee said she had taken into account the changes made to the original notified proposal as a result of objections received, in deciding to approve a modified proposal.

The seaward boundary had been adjusted to achieve a more readily identifiable boundary resulting in a small reduction to the proposal area.

She said the 700 hectares off the southern coast of Waiheke Island, proposed for a marine reserve, included areas of saltmarsh and mangroves, large intertidal mudflats, superb shellbanks, and, in the deeper water, beds of horse mussels, large seaweeds and crayfish habitats.

“This is an important area for marine and coastal wildlife. Snapper, kingfish, kahawai, and trevally are some of the fish species found within the proposal area. A range of wading birds, including the threatened New Zealand dotterel, frequent the tidal mudflats.”

The catchment of the bay is the most natural on the island with much of its native forest and shrublands protected in reserves.

Ms Lee said the proposed reserve lay within the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and would she believed become one of the jewels of the park.

She said the next stage in the process was for her to request the agreement of the Ministers of Fisheries and Transport to the proposal.

If they concurred with her decision, a recommendation would then be made to the Governor-General for an Order in Council to formalise the creation of the new marine reserve.

"The government will be introducing a new Marine Reserves Bill later this year to streamline the process of creating marine reserves, and change their focus to gave greater concentration on the protection of marine biodiversity, " Ms Lee said.

She said she was hopeful that formal decisions on up to 12 marine reserve applications, including this proposal, could be made within the next 18 months.

Other marine reserves in the Hauraki Gulf and nearby waters are: Long Bay-Okura (North Harbour), Motu Manawa-Pollen island (Upper Waitemata Harbour), and Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove, at the south-eastern end of Mercury Bay on the Coromandel Peninsula).


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