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Potential "National Treasure" Gets Nod From Lee

14 May 2002

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has opened the way for the establishment of the proposed 969-hectare Taputeranga marine reserve on Wellington's south coast.

Ms Lee has forwarded the application to her colleagues, the Ministers of Fisheries and Transport, for their consideration. If they agree with her, the government will recommend that the Governor General issue an Order in Council to formally establish the marine reserve.

"Taputeranga could rapidly become a national treasure, showcasing marine conservation on the doorstep of New Zealand's capital city," Ms Lee said.

"Marine biodiversity in a myriad of shapes and forms would become readily accessible to thousands of urban dwellers and visitors.

"The proposed reserve lies where three oceanic currents converge, bringing together a distinctive mixture of warm, cold temperate, and sub-Antarctic marine plants and animals.

"The northern and southern limits of many fish occur within the proposed marine reserve, and its complex topography has created a wide variety of habitats within a relatively small area.

"It would be a place where people can snorkel and dive, and see an increasing abundance of marine life. DOC and local organisations will develop interpretation and education programmes to enable visitors to become more aware of their local marine biodiversity and habitats."

The Taputeranga application was filed jointly in 2000 by the South Coast Marine Reserve Coalition and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of NZ.

The Conservation Minister said the application attracted 597 objections and another 660 submissions supporting marine reserve status. There were also eight neutral submissions.

"After careful consideration, I have decided not to uphold any of the objections lodged, " Ms Lee said. "I am now arranging for interested parties to be informed in detail of my decision.
"While there was some opposition among the south coast residents and some iwi, more Wellingtonians regarded it as an exciting attraction for the city," Ms Lee said.

"The proposed marine reserve enjoyed support from many including the Wellington City Council, the Ati Awa o Poneke (Wellington Tenths Trust), The New Zealand Marine Sciences Society, The Federation of Wellington Progressive Associations, Wellington Regional Council, Island Bay Lifesaving and Surf Club, and the Wellington Civic Trust.

Ms Lee said she was confident most of the objectors' concerns could be addressed, particularly those relating to the existing use of boats and moorings.

"I acknowledge the loss of opportunities for recreational fishers," she said. "But the enhancement of the marine reserve ecosystems are expected to accrue to the coast either side of the proposed reserve. This could mean fishers located just outside Taputeranga notice increased catches once the benefits of the marine reserve are realised."

The Conservation Minister noted that Taputeranga's marine reserve status would affect an application that is being processed under the Resource Management Act to sink the frigate Wellington off the south coast. She said the applicants for this project would need to apply for approval from the Director-General of Conservation under the Marine Reserves Act once Taputeranga Marine Reserve was established.

"I appreciate the efforts of everyone who made submissions, whether they supported or opposed the application, " Ms Lee said. "The history of marine reserves shows that many of those who originally object end up becoming some of their strongest supporters."

"I also wish to congratulate the members of the South Coast Marine Reserve Coalition and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of NZ for their vision and dedication in championing this marine reserve over many years."


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