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Carter approves Great Barrier marine reserve

16 June 2005

Carter approves Great Barrier marine reserve

A proposal to create a marine reserve off Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf has been approved by Conservation Minister Chris Carter, but the reserve will be smaller than originally suggested.

"After careful consideration, I have approved a reserve covering 49,500 hectares on the eastern side of Great Barrier Island, which differs from the original application by the Department of Conservation (DOC)," Mr Carter said.

"Following discussions with Great Barrier Island residents, fishers, and local iwi groups, I have decided to exclude the area around Whangapoua Beach, which reduces the size of the reserve by some 508 hectares. This exclusion is in addition to the exclusion of the adjoining estuary, which was included in DOC's original proposal for the reserve but removed in the formal application to me because of its value to local people.

"The argument for this reserve is very powerful. The marine area it will cover is highly distinctive. There are few if any other locations within the Auckland region, and perhaps New Zealand, with as many different landforms, habitats and species in such close proximity," Mr Carter said.

"Support for the original reserve proposal was strong. Of the 3513 submissions on it, some 2200 were supportive. Nevertheless, I believe inclusion of the Whangapoua Beach area in the reserve would have impacted on local residents who fish in the bay for food."

Mr Carter said he did not accept that recreational fishers from across the wider Auckland region would be significantly affected by the proposed reserve.

"Fishing is very important to the Auckland community, but there are many other fishing spots within easy reach of Auckland and popular holiday spots, including a number of better fishing areas around Great Barrier Island which are outside the proposed reserve.

"The waters within the proposed reserve are isolated and remote. A survey of visible boats undertaken in 2003/4 found that use of the area by recreational fishers was low to moderate even in mid summer," Mr Carter said.

He said DOC's administration of the proposal process had been independently reviewed and cleared as appropriate.

The proposal would now proceed to the Minister of Fisheries for concurrence.

ENDS

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