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Fiordland Marine Area announced


1 October 2004 Media Statement

Fiordland Marine Area announced

The government has agreed to enact the strategy developed by the Fiordland Guardians creating a new Fiordland Marine Area. This will protect the special environment of the world-famous South Island fiords.

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said the move would achieve the right balance between environmental protection, and continued commercial fishing and recreational use.

"The Fiordland Marine Area was proposed and developed by the local community, particularly the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment," Marian Hobbs said. "At the local level they worked with the Fiordland and Southland communities, Ngâi Tahu and the regional council, Environment Southland.

"The Guardians worked with Ministry for the Environment, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Fisheries. At different stages they involved the government through the Minister Responsible for Oceans Policy, Pete Hodgson, Conservation Minister, Chris Carter and myself to turn their vision for the area into a workable reality."

The new management regime for the area includes strong community involvement. It also includes significant voluntary buy-in by fishers, iwi, boaties, tourist operators, divers and other users.

"Fiordland is a globally unique environment. It has high value marine resources and exceptional biodiversity, including species found only in this part of the world. It is a special area worthy of special protection. We are acting now to ensure future generations will enjoy the treasures of this area," Marian Hobbs said.

Marian Hobbs expects to introduce special legislation to Parliament before the end of the year to create the new Fiordland Marine Area and management regime. It is expected to come into being in the middle of next year.

The legislation will:

Recognise the national and international importance of the natural features of Fiordland’s marine environment. Identify the Fiordland Marine Area, proposed to: encompass an estimated 928,000-hectares, include the waters of the Milford and Doubtful Sounds, extend from the eastern bank of the Waiau River in Southland northwards to Awarua Point in northern Fiordland, include the sea from mean highwater springs out to the 12-mile Territorial Sea Limit adjacent to Fiordland, but excluding the area around Solander Island.

Establish a local advisory committee, the Fiordland Marine Guardians, to advise the government and Environment Southland. Create eight new marine reserves, totalling about 9430 hectares. These will augment existing Fiordland marine reserves at Milford and Doubtful Sounds.

Allow for more effective management of ‘marine areas of special significance’ (areas identified by the Guardians for their special and ecologically fragile features). Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope will draft new regulations to prevent commercial fishing within large parts of the inner fiords.

They will create a 46,000-hectare recreational fishing area with new sustainable fishing rules. The Guardians spent eight years developing their Fiordland Marine Conservation Strategy, to address concerns over increasing pressure on the fiords from human activity.

This includes from tourism, cruise ships, fishing, diving, electricity generation and boating. The Environment Minister became involved two years ago after the Guardians had worked with government officials for several years.

"The government thanks the Guardians for their foresight, vision and dedication to this valuable part of New Zealand’s natural heritage," Marian Hobbs said. "The Guardians will remain an active part of the area’s future and protection, and have a large role to play in the management of the Fiordland Marine Area.

"The way the strategy was developed is my template for community management of the environment. It has been a community-to-government movement. Our government supported the project throughout its development because the Fiordland area is so important to New Zealand and the community-driven initiative was so positive."


Fiordland Marine Area Questions and Answers A special plan for a special place

1 October 2004

The government announced on 1 Octyober 2004 that a special new community-based Fiordland Marine Area and management regime will be created to protect the unique environment of Fiordland.

It will include a new geographical entity known as the Fiordland Marine Area, encompassing 928,000-hectares, eight new marine reserves, and new fisheries management and sustainability measures.

Features include strong community involvement, an advisory committee, new fisheries regulations and significant voluntary take up by the various users of the fiords.

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said special legislation would be developed to establish the Fiordland Marine Area and management regime; to provide effective long-term management of the marine environment of Fiordland in the South Island.

Marian Hobbs intends to introduce the special legislation to Parliament before the end of 2004, with the Fiordland Marine Area and management regime expected to come into being in the middle of 2005.

Why is a special management regime needed for Fiordland?

Fiordland has a globally unique marine environment, with many species found only in this area. These include protected black and red corals, which are found in Fiordland at shallow depths because of the unique combination of high mountains, high rainfall and rainforest.

The high rainfall in the area percolating through the humus layer of the forests causes a tea-coloured water to run into the fiords, forming a darkly-stained freshwater layer on top of the saltwater. This causes a huge reduction in light levels allowing normally deepwater species to live much closer to the surface, colonising the steep fiord walls. The diversity of species and habitats of the rock wall communities in Fiordland rival those in the most species rich regions of the globe.

Fiordland is a significant economic area. Important fisheries stocks, most notably rock lobster and blue cod, are the target of both commercial and recreational fishers. The landscapes of the fiords are iconic, with more than 300,000 tourists visiting Milford Sound a year.

The Fiordland marine environment has been facing an escalation in human activity, including from tourism, cruise ships, fishing, diving, electricity generation and boating. With these activities come a wide variety of potential risks, including oil spills, bio-invasion, over-fishing, and anchoring damage to sensitive corals.

What prompted the government to get involved?

In 1995, the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment (the Guardians) formed. They began what would become an eight-year project to improve marine resource management in Fiordland.

This culminated in their drafting a proposed Fiordland Marine Conservation Strategy. In September 2003, the Guardians presented the strategy to Environment Minister Marian Hobbs and then Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson (also the Minister Responsible for Oceans Policy) at a public meeting in Te Anau. At that meeting, the Ministers committed the government to implementing a strategy by September 2005.

The Ministers said they saw the strategy providing direction for marine management in Fiordland. The Ministers noted that central and local government agencies would need to have the flexibility to find the most appropriate means to implement it. In November 2003, Marian Hobbs established a group of officials (called the Investigative Group) to report on the options for implementing the Guardians’ strategy.

This group included representatives from the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Fisheries, Department of Conservation, Marine Biosecurity Agency, Environment Southland (the regional council); as well as representatives from the Guardians and Ngâi Tahu. This collaboration resulted in the proposed new Fiordland Marine Area and marine management regime.

What is proposed in the new Fiordland marine management regime?

The proposed new Fiordland marine management regime recognises the special nature of the Fiordland marine environment. It contains the following essential elements, which will be captured by the special Fiordland legislation:

Recognition of the national and international importance of the marine habitats, communities and natural features within Fiordland’s marine environment. Identification of the area to be covered by the new management regime. See Map 1 below. It is proposed that the new Fiordland Marine Area will: encompass an estimated 928,000-hectares,

include the waters of the Milford and Doubtful Sounds, extend from the eastern bank of the Waiau River in Southland northwards to Awarua Point in northern Fiordland, and encompass all of the Southland Coastal Marine Area between these two points, include the sea area from mean high water springs out to the 12-mile territorial limit adjacent to the Fiordland, but excluding the area around Solander Island. A strongly Southland-based advisory committee (to be known as the Fiordland Marine Guardians) will be established to provide management advice to the government and Environment Southland.

The primary marine resource management agencies (for fisheries, marine reserves, coastal planning and biosecurity) will be obliged to have regard to the advice of this new advisory committee. The committee will comprise eight members appointed by the Minister for the Environment in consultation with the Ministers of Fisheries and Conservation, and Environment Southland. Among other duties, the committee will provide integrated advice on marine resource management and conservation, provide a forum for management agencies to work together and act as a marine reserves advisory body. The committee will be distinct from the Incorporated Society known as the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment.

The idea of guardianship or kaitiakitanga is very strong in Fiordland and in these proposals, hence the use of the word ‘Guardians’ in the names of both the society and the new advisory committee. Eight new marine reserves throughout the fiords will be created. These are eight ‘representative areas’ identified by the Guardians, totalling about 9430 hectares. The reserves will augment two existing Fiordland marine reserves at Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) and at Doubtful Sound (Te Awaatu Channel).

When the new marine reserves are created, the total area of marine protection in Fiordland will rise from one per cent now to 13 per cent of the marine area within the fiords. The marine reserves will cover most, but not all, of the full range of marine ecosystem types within the Fiordland Marine Area. The locations and extent of the new marine reserves are shown on Map 2 below.

It is proposed that Fiordland-specific management requirements will be set for each marine reserve; including allowance for non-living taonga collection, the storage of rock lobster and pots, public access and anchoring. Changes will be made to the new Southland Regional Coastal Plan to provide for more effective management of ‘special marine places’ (small discrete areas with special environmental features, identified by the Guardians and known as ‘china shops’).

The Guardians called these special areas ‘china shops’ to reflect the fragile and sensitive habitats and features they contained. Local fishing and boating operators recognised that their use of these areas, such as uncontrolled fishing or anchoring, could pose risks to these values.

They therefore refer to themselves as the ‘bulls’ that need to be kept out of the ‘china shops’. Fiordland tourism operators, in partnership with Environment Southland and the Department of Conservation, will establish a code of practice for the use of each of these ‘special marine places’. Activities in these fragile areas, such as diving and anchoring, which might threaten the special values, can then be managed. The effectiveness of the package of management measures will be reviewed after five years of operation and periodically thereafter. There will be a moratorium on new marine reserve applications in Fiordland until the new management measures have been formally reviewed after five years.

What are the Fisheries Management Proposals contained in the new management regime? The Minister of Fisheries will draft new regulations to manage fishing within the fiords. Commercial fishing will no longer occur within the inner fiords, including Milford and Doubtful Sounds, creating a series of non-commercial fishing areas totalling 46,000ha. Within this area, new rules for non-commercial fishing will be applied to ensure the sustainability of local fish populations and stocks, and the protection of their environment.

The proposed new fisheries rules are detailed in the table below. Table Proposed Fisheries Management Measures
Area Management measures
Milford and Doubtful Sounds - Commercial fishing No commercial fishing inside the Doubtful Sound habitat lines Non-commercial fishing Two-year closure for blue cod, plus two additional years if necessary. Groper daily bag limit of three, no accumulation*. Rock lobster daily bag limit of three, no accumulation*.

Inside the rest of the fiords

- Commercial fishing No commercial fishing inside the habitat lines. Non-commercial fishing bag limits Blue cod daily bag limit of three, no accumulation.* Groper daily bag limit of three, no accumulation.* Rock lobster daily bag limit of three, no accumulation.*
Fiord entrances and outer coast

- Commercial fishing Harvest capped by the Quota Management System (QMS).1 Non-commercial fishing bag limits Blue cod daily bag limit of 20, no accumulation* (includes the three blue cod limit from within the fiords). Groper daily bag limit of five, no accumulation* (includes the three groper limit from within the fiords). Rock lobster daily bag limit of six, with a three-day accumulation limit of 15.
Applying both “Inside the rest of the fiords” and to “Fiord entrances and outer coast”

- Non-commercial fishing bag limits Scallop and paua daily bag limit 10, no accumulation.*2 Groper included in the total finfish bag limit. Total finfish bag limit of 30 with no accumulation.* Jock Stewart (Sea Perch) daily bag limit of 10 with no accumulation* – outside the combined daily finfish bag limit. Non-commercial bulk harvesting methods No cod pots inside the habitat lines of any fiord. Dahn lines limited to two/boat and five hooks per line. Rock lobster pots limited to three/boat. No scallop dredges and no set nets.
* Accumulation refers to aggregation of catch in extended recreational fishing trips of several days duration. To exercise this defence the fisher must be able to prove that the fish or shellfish was taken within the prescribed daily limit on each day fished. 1. Harvest is already capped by the QMS, so there is no change to commercial fishing in these areas. 2. Note that the daily bag limit for paua and scallops is already 10. The change proposed is to limit accumulation.

Map 1. Location of the proposed Fiordland Marine Area
Map 2: Location of the proposed Marine Reserves in the Fiordland Marine Area
How long will it take to create the new Fiordland Marine Area and implement the management regime? Implementation will be spread over three years. During 2004/5, it is intended that the legislative components will be developed and implemented, with a view to enacting the new Fiordland legislation by July 2005. During 2005/6, it is intended there will be initial implementation of the Fiordland Marine Area, including the new fisheries regulations and marine reserves. Most focus will go on planning the major management operations of environmental monitoring, compliance and enforcement. During 2006/7, these operational plans are intended to become operative. Who will implement and administer the Fiordland Marine Area and management regime?

Improvements in coastal planning, monitoring, enforcement, education and biosecurity will be implemented by central government agencies and Environment Southland (the regional council).

The Ministry for the Environment will draft the special Fiordland legislation, in collaboration with other government agencies. The Ministry for the Environment will also convene an Implementation Planning Group to provide project planning and overall coordination until the Fiordland Marine Guardians advisory committee is established, and agencies have developed the specific management programmes required.

The Ministry of Fisheries, Department of Conservation and Environment Southland will continue day-to-day planning and management in Fiordland. But the intention is that they will contribute to an overall more integrated, cooperative and efficient management regime within the Fiordland Marine Area.

The Department of Conservation will lead the development of a monitoring plan for the area. The Ministry of Fisheries will lead the development of a compliance and enforcement plan for the area. The Marine Biosecurity Agency will lead the development of a biosecurity plan for the area.

The Ministry for the Environment will work with Environment Southland to coordinate the development of information and education programmes for the Fiordland Marine Area, with support from other agencies and interested parties.

The intention is for the local community to work with the various management agencies to develop appropriate and innovative approaches to management, with a local Fiordland and Southland ‘flavour’.

Who are the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment?

The Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment (the Guardians) were formed in 1995. Its members represent organisations in the local community. These include the Ngâi Tahu Runanga of Oraka-Aparima, and commercial fishing, recreational fishing, charter/tourism, and conservation interests. In 2003, the Guardians completed an eight-year project to devise a strategy for improved marine resource management in Fiordland, the Fiordland Marine Conservation Strategy. The strategy was developed to address the Guardians’ concerns about the impacts of human activities on Fiordland’s fisheries and marine environment. The Guardians’ initial focus was to develop a comprehensive picture of Fiordland’s fisheries and marine environment. From there they identified a number of key issues that needed to be addressed if progress was to be made towards achieving their vision for Fiordland’s fisheries and marine environment. The following key issues were identified: threats to the sustainability of fish stocks the need to protect values of special significance human generated environmental risks and threats the expression of kaitiakitanga (guardianship)

The Guardians undertook long and careful negotiation and consultation with the wide range of interested groups and stakeholders. Each of the sectors involved in the negotiations gave up some of the interests that they held in the marine environment for the overall protection of the marine environment. The result of this process was a package of management measures the Guardians believed would improve local marine resource management.

Guardians website – http://www.fiordland-guardians.org.nz Ministry for the Environment website – http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/biodiversity/responsibilities/marine/fiordland-strategy.html

ENDS

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