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Forum set up to look at Otago marine protection

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister of Conservation 

17 October 2013       Media Statement

Forum set up to look at Otago marine protection

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced the establishment of a community-led forum to consider marine protection for the Otago coastline.
“New Zealand has a network of 34 marine reserves covering an area of 1.28 million hectares. However, Otago stands out as being the only region without a marine protected area,” Dr Smith says.

“Otago’s spectacular coastline is home to some of our most endangered species like the Yellow-eyed Penguin, Northern Royal Albatross and New Zealand Sea Lion and deserves more protection. It is also out of character with Dunedin and Otago’s strong support for conservation with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, Otago University’s marine department, and the world- renowned conservation advocacy of the Natural History Unit.

“The Otago forum, to focus on the coastline between Timaru to Waipapa Point, will follow the successful models of forums that have established marine protection in areas such as Fiordland, the West Coast and the Subantarctic Islands.

“It is part of National’s bluegreen agenda to take a collaborative approach to marine protection where we seek to involve all key stakeholders at the beginning of the process and try to build broad community agreement. We need to learn from the failed process of the proposed Nugget Point Marine Reserve, where the attempt to impose marine protection against the community’s will saw the proposal withdrawn in 2005.

“We need people on the 14-member forum with strong links to the southern marine region and who are able to negotiate, facilitate, compromise and work well with others. It’s important we get a wide representation of the various interested parties, as well as a good geographical spread.

“The forum will be in charge of engaging and consulting with the community to build a consensus and come up with recommendations to the Government on what type of marine protection is appropriate and where.”

Nominations for forum members are due by 18 November. Nomination forms are available at www.doc.govt.nz and www.mpi.govt.nz and at DOC and MPI offices in Otago, Southland and Canterbury.

‘I would like the forum convened by the end of this year and the process underway in 2014. My hope is that the forum will have its recommendations to Government by 2015,” Dr Smith says.

ENDS

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