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New marine reserve on Capital’s doorstep

Hon Steve Chadwick
Minister of Conservation

31 July 2008 Media Release

New marine reserve on Capital’s doorstep

Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick today announced the establishment of a new marine reserve on Wellington’s scenic south coast.

“The Taputeranga Marine Reserve is right on the doorstep of our capital city, making it easily accessible to more than 300,000 people, as well as Wellington’s many visitors,” Steve Chadwick said today.

The 854 ha reserve encompasses Owhiro, Island, Princess and Houghton Bays, and extends 2.3 km out to sea and 3.3 km along Wellington’s south coast. Notice of the reserve was published today in the New Zealand Gazette and the no-take protections will come into force in 28 days time.

“Last year, more than 551 species – including at least four new ones – were discovered here, and the marine reserve will showcase this unique animal and plant-life. The reserve will be an attraction for divers and snorkellers, wanting to view the naturally-restored ecosystems.”

Education programmes will be developed to highlight the marine biodiversity and habitat within the marine reserve.

“The new reserve balances the protection of our unique marine life, while retaining the local fishing industry and the iconic fishing boats of Island Bay.

“This area has been the focus of extensive marine research over 30 years and the creation of the reserve will enhance this research – it has the potential to become one of the most valuable natural laboratories in New Zealand.”

The reserve is located where three oceanic currents meet, bringing together warm, cold, temperate and sub-Antarctic waters and resulting in a diverse and dynamic marine environment.

“I’d particularly like to congratulate the reserve applicants – the Wellington branch of Forest and Bird and the Wellington South Coast Marine Reserve Coalition - for their dedication to this project – this is the culmination of many years of hard work.

“This government is committed to protecting our unique marine ecosystems, and this reserve follows the establishment of 16 other new reserves since 2000.

“This is another important step in protecting our special marine life and towards meeting our biodiversity target of protecting 10 per cent of New Zealand’s marine environment.”

ENDS


Background information

An official marine reserve opening celebration will be held for the community later in the year.

The boundaries of the marine reserve have been altered from those originally proposed to improve enforcement, and maintain opportunities for recreational and commercial fishers.

The reserve surrounds, but does not include, Taputeranga Island. The dive wreck of the ex Navy frigate F69, is within the marine reserve boundaries.

The area has been a focus of extensive marine research over 30 years by the Victoria University Centre for Marine Environmental and Economic Research.

This mix of plants and animals found in this area is representative of the South and West Cook Strait area and is unique in New Zealand. Within the marine reserve, complex underwater and shoreline topography and high energy currents have created a wide variety of habitats within a relatively small area

The Order in Council allows swing moorings in Island Bay to remain, providing they comply with the Resource Management Act 1991, and commercial fishers can continue to have rock lobster holding pots within the Bay.

It also provides for the continuation of existing discharges and structures within the marine reserve. Consent for unauthorised discharges will need to be obtained by the Wellington City Council under the Resource Management Act 1991.

Wellington City Council will continue to be able to remove excessive amounts of seaweed dumped on the Island Bay beach by major storms.


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