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Fiordland Marine Management Bill becomes law

Fiordland Marine Management Bill becomes law

A new law establishing unique local management of the special environment of the South Island fiords has now passed through Parliament.

The Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Management Bill 2004 had its third reading in Parliament today, giving effect to management measures proposed by the Guardians of Fiordland for Fiordland's marine environment. The measures will enhance the sustainable management and protection of the area.

"I am thrilled to see the Fiordland community's dream becoming a reality," Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said. "It is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the Guardians of Fiordland, who spent more than seven years devising the strategy to which this new law gives effect.

"I am pleased it has taken less than two years from the Guardians first presenting the strategy to myself and my Cabinet colleagues, to the bill passing through its final stages in Parliament. This is a fantastic example of Ministers, government officials and the community working together to achieve an excellent result."

The Guardians represent the various sectors of the marine area's users, including recreational and commercial fishers, scientists, the local iwi Ngâi Tahu, environmentalists and tourist operators. The government agencies coordinating the changes are the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Fisheries, the Department of Conservation, and MAF Biosecurity along with Environment Southland.

The bill: Recognises the local, national and international importance of Fiordland's marine environment. Creates the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Area, encompassing 882,000 hectares including Milford and Doubtful Sounds. Creates eight new marine reserves, totalling about 9520 hectares, adding to existing reserves, and increasing the percentage of the fiords area in marine reserves from 1 to 13 per cent.

Provides legislative recognition of the Fiordland Marine Guardians, to advise the government and Environment Southland. Provides for the more effective management of ‘marine areas of special significance’, areas identified by the Guardians for their special and ecologically fragile features.

Next Steps

Over the next few months, the government will produce information to let users, tourists and the community know what has changed. The information will show where the new Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Area is, where the eight new marine reserves are, and what the new rules are.

With the assistance of the Fiordland Marine Guardians, the management agencies (the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Fisheries, the Department of Conservation, MAF Biosecurity and Environment Southland) will work together over the next year or so, with the Fiordland community and marine area users, to implement the changes.

The changes will include a scientific monitoring programme, enforcement plans and fisheries regulations. The fisheries regulations will set bag limits and stipulate what can be taken where.

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