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Forward thinking for Fiordland’s marine env.

Hon Pete Hodgson
Friday 11 October 2002 Speech Notes
8pm Saturday 12 October

Forward thinking for Fiordland’s marine environment

[Address at launch of Guardians of Fiordland's Fisheries Draft Integrated Management Strategy for Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment, Te Anau]

I was first approached by members of the Guardians two and a half years ago and asked my opinion about the concept of an integrated management strategy for Fiordland’s marine environment. At that time, I saw the concept as very worthy but also very challenging. Now, after what has obviously been a lot of hard work, I have the privilege of launching for consultation the Draft Integrated Management Strategy for Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment.

We all know Fiordland is magnificent, a truly amazing and unique place. But its extraordinary marine environment is also vulnerable. It has been protected by difficult access and, shall we say, changeable weather. But the difficulties of access are being steadily overcome. The fiords are seeing an increasing number and variety of visitors, taking part in an increasing range of activities. With these changes comes increasing pressure on the environment. If Fiordland is to maintain the abundant fisheries for which it is renowned, we must improve the way we manage the human impact.

I welcome, therefore, your forethought and determination in developing this draft strategy. You have looked ahead and seen that a co-ordinated or integrated approach will be necessary if Fiordland's marine resources are to meet everyone's needs.

I am very interested in what’s been taking shape down here because it coincides with a shift in government thinking about the management of the marine environment. Usually governments don’t react to problems until they become urgent. The work we have been doing towards an Oceans Policy for New Zealand is about anticipating problems before they arise, as you have sought to do. It is about developing a framework for managing conflicts before they escalate and possibly get out of hand.

The future of the marine environment is also the focus of government initiatives such as reform of marine reserves legislation, aquaculture law and the development of a marine protected areas strategy. These, and the Ministry of Fisheries' work on an environmental management strategy, are all part of a growing effort to increase the level of integration and co-operation in our management of the marine environment.

The draft strategy you have developed is comprehensive. It covers fisheries, biodiversity, biosecurity, pollution, visitor impacts and the exercise of kaitiakitanga. You will be well aware that knitting so many major and different goals and interests together is fraught with difficulty. Yet here in the south you’re just going ahead and doing it.

So what can we learn from your achievement that can be applied to the national situation?

First, I think, it's clear that you have worked with a common cause, a shared vision for Fiordland's sustainable development. You have defined that as the aspiration “that the quality of Fiordland’s marine environment and fisheries, including the wider fishery experience, be maintained or improved for future generations to enjoy”. Few could disagree with that as a starting point. But you have done the hard work of taking it further.

Tangata whenua, stakeholders, and government agencies have all got around the table, identified risks and threats to the environment and proposed ways of managing them. This has involved significant compromise by all parties. The spirit of cooperation, the honesty and integrity that this requires are the foundation for good long term management decisions.

Another important feature has been the effort put into acquiring good information as the
basis for understanding the environment and finding management solutions. Significantly, much of this information has been gleaned from local knowledge — not only from current users, but from people who plied these waters forty, fifty years ago. Some of the history gathered goes back still further.

The importance of local knowledge and experience is that people with a stake in this area know that their experiences are represented and that management measures are grounded in reality. Incorporating local knowledge promotes local confidence and ownership of management decisions and, in the long run, a good level of compliance.

Cooperation, the use of good information and the involvement of local people combine in favour of enduring results. They help ensure consistent decision-making, giving more certainty for stakeholders and conserving both natural resources and management resources.

Adherence to a common interest and greater good has created a remarkable situation, where stakeholder groups that might usually look to compete with each other have worked cooperatively and constructively. That such a diverse array of people and interests could produce this document certainly lends credit not only to them, but to the strategy itself.

Still, of course, there is more to do. Analysing submissions, finalising the strategy and then implementation are the major tasks ahead of you.

I urge all interested parties take the opportunity you have created and make submissions on this draft strategy. I am very pleased that the Guardians have reached this important milestone and I want to acknowledge the hard work and personal sacrifice that many people have invested in the process. This dedication highlights the importance of the Fiordland marine environment to the people who live here and use the fiords regularly.

I look forward to a positive result and I hope that your vision for the future of Fiordland’s marine environment can be made real.

ENDS

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