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New planning system for marine reserves announced

15 November 2004 Media Statement

New planning system for marine reserves announced

The way in which new marine reserves are planned for in New Zealand waters is to be restructured to better incorporate the views of a wider variety of groups using the ocean, and to ensure a more systematic approach.

The restructuring is proposed in a draft Marine Protected Areas Policy Statement and Implementation Plan, released for consultation with key stakeholders in the marine environment by Conservation Minister Chris Carter.

"The focus of this new policy is to ensure sites for new marine protected areas are chosen in such a way that they preserve a full range of sea life while minimising the impact on existing users of the ocean," Mr Carter said.

"Our current system for developing marine reserves has been piecemeal. It has sometimes caused unnecessary conflict because, rightly or wrongly, different stakeholders have not felt included in protection processes.

"The new system seeks to establish a more transparent and systematic approach to planning the location of protected areas. It sets up a framework in which multiple protected areas can be considered at once by a wide variety of parties and sensible compromises made," Mr Carter said.

"Over the next five years, 18 different regions, beginning with Auckland, will participate in planning processes to identify local marine areas for protection. These processes will involve government agencies, environmental organisations, fishing groups, Maori, and others," Mr Carter said.

"In future, the Department of Conservation will encourage all external groups promoting the establishment of new marine reserves to do so through the regional planning process. However, existing reserve proposals and applications will continue under the current process.

"My hope is that by adopting this new approach we will make smooth progress towards the Government's goal of placing 10 per cent of our marine area under some form of protection by 2010," Mr Carter said.

Copies of the Marine Protected Areas Policy Statement and Implementation Plan are available from www.doc.govt.nz

ENDS

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