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Marine Reserves Bill 2002 Introduced

10 June 2002

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has announced that the Marine Reserves Bill 2002 has been introduced to Parliament.

She said the Bill represents the culmination of two years consultation and policy development to overhaul the current Marine Reserves Act.

“The current law is over 30 years old. It served New Zealand well in its day but is not able to meet today’s marine protection needs,” said Ms Lee.

“The current legislation provides for the protection of marine areas for scientific study. The new purpose in the Bill is to conserve indigenous marine biodiversity for current and future generations.

"It will also allow reserves to be created in the exclusive economic zone whereas they can currently only be declared within the New Zealand’s 12 mile territorial sea.

“The Bill also recognises that the community values marine reserves for the recreational opportunities they provide and for the sheer delight of viewing unspoilt underwater worlds teeming with fish and plant-life.

"A key principle in the Bill is that people are free to use and enjoy marine reserves as long as they don’t harm the natural values.

“I have been particularly frustrated by the cumbersome and lengthy process for establishing reserves under the current Act and the Bill addresses this problem” said the Minister.

“The processes covering applications, public input and decision-making are set out very clearly. This will remove any ambiguity about the sequence of steps involved in consideration of an application.

“Time limits have also been included at each stage of the process. However, these are reasonable. There will be considerable opportunity for input by stakeholders and the public including through written submissions and meetings to help resolve differences.”

“The government has also decided that the only Ministerial consent would be that of the Minister of Conservation.

"The existing concurrence roles of the Ministers of Fisheries and Transport have been replaced by a mandatory requirement that those Ministers and the Ministers of Defence, Energy and Foreign Affairs and Trade be consulted.

“I am conscious that there is sometimes public concern that the declaration of a marine reserve may prevent a range of benign activities such as building of sand castles and swimming," said Ms Lee.

"This is not the case. In drafting the Bill, the government has focused on setting out very clearly what people can and cannot do within a marine reserve.

“An important element is that fishing will not be allowed.

"Research has shown that a 'no-take' policy is critical to ensuring that the full benefits of natural state protection are achieved,” said Ms Lee.

“I am aware that once a reserve is established, successful management and enforcement often depends on local support and involvement.

"The Bill provides opportunities for interested people to be involved in advisory committees. In addition, a new feature is that local authorities, tangata whenua, local interest groups and management boards can also be appointed as day to day managers instead of DOC in certain circumstances.

“The Marine Reserves Bill will be an important tool to assist the government in meeting the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy target of protecting 10% of New Zealand’s marine environment by 2010,” said Ms Lee.

“I intend to move at its first reading that the Bill be referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee. I urge all those with an interest in marine reserves to make submissions.”


Editors' Note: The Marine Reserves Bill 2002 was introduced to Parliament on Friday 7 June 2002 (a non-sitting day). The new Bill is expected to be listed as such under "Bills Introduced" in the Parliamentary Notice Paper issued today (10 June 2002). Once the House resumes tomorrow, when the Speaker asks 'Are there any Bills for introduction', the Clerk is expected to respond 'Marine Reserves Bill 2002'. Copies for the public will be available from Bennetts Government Bookshop outlets later this week, and the first reading debate will be held in due course.

Details released earlier this year can be found at:
http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.cfm?DocumentID=12942

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