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Changes To Marine Reserves Act Welcomed

30 January 2002

Forest and Bird today welcomed the changes proposed to the Marine Reserves Act announced by the Minister of Conservation, Sandra Lee.

Forest and Bird Senior Researcher, Barry Weeber, said the streamlining of the Act and the ability to create reserves throughout New Zealand's 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone were among the most significant advances announced by the Government.

Mr Weeber said these changes should make it easier to establish more marine reserves as part of a network of areas.

"The removal of the requirement to get the consent of other Ministers is welcomed. The Minister of Fisheries does not need the consent of the Minister of Conservation in setting fisheries catch limits, so why should the Minister of Conservation need the consent of the Minister of Fisheries to establish marine reserves?"

Forest and Bird expects these changes to have bipartisan support, given the National Party's commitment to establishing nine marine reserves over the next 3 years.

As part of its I love marine reserves campaign, Forest and Bird is calling for marine reserves to be established over 20% of the marine area.

"Marine reserves are some of the most popular natural areas for New Zealanders' to visit. The problem is we don't have enough of them".

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Background: Less than 1% of the coast is designated as marine reserves. Internationally marine scientists are calling for 20 percent of the marine environment to be protected as no-take marine reserves.

More New Zealanders visit a marine reserve than visit a national park. Over 250,000 people a year visit the Goat Island marine reserve at Leigh, north of Auckland. This summer it is likely that more new Zealanders than ever will visit a marine reserve. Congestion is becoming a real issue at some marine reserves. Getting a car park at the Goat Island marine reserve can be a real problem at peak times.

We need more marine reserves to spread the burden of visitor numbers and to give more New Zealanders the chance to experience the wonders of the marine environment in its natural condition.

Everyone wins with marine reserves. They result in more fish for fishers, because fish grow bigger in marine reserves and create more young. People wanting to experience the wonder of our natural marine environment win, as do those who want to see a healthier marine environment.

Currently there are 8 applications before the Government, many of which have been waiting for a decision from the Government for several years. Forest and Bird is the applicant for four applications: Kaikoura, Glenduan to Ataata Point (north Nelson), Taputeranga (Wellington South Coast) and Te Matuku (Waiheke Island). Kaikoura was applied for in 1992.

Aims of Forest and Bird's I love marine reserves campaign

* Forest and Bird seeks 20% of our seas being protected by a network of no-take marine reserves

* To gain government commitment to produce a draft plan and implementation strategy for an integrated network of marine reserves by June 2002.

* Create a marine park on Auckland's Wild West Coast, including a Ramsar (wetland of international importance) site at Kaipara Harbour, West Auckland.

* Create of a marine protection system, including marine reserves, for the Fiords of Fiordland.

* Completion of the revision of the Marine Reserves Act and an Act that sets out an easier process for securing marine reserves.

* To raise awareness of the declining health of our seas. Forest and Bird's recognises the role Maori fisheries management tools, such as rahui, taiapure and mataitai can play in enhancing biodiversity and that these can be complementary to no-take marine reserves.

For more information on Forest and Bird's "I love marine reserves" campaign, please see www.forestandbird.org.nz/marine

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