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Waiheke Marine Reserve Decision Welcomed

March 13, 2002 - Wellington

Forest and Bird welcomes the Minister of Conservation's approval of a marine reserve application for Te Matuku on Waiheke Island. Forest and Bird is the applicant for the Te Matuku Marine Reserve.

"We hope that the Ministers of Fisheries and Transport will give concurrence as soon as possible," says Eric Pyle, Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager.

Forest and Bird applied for a marine reserve at Te Matuku in 1998 and has made three other applications around the country.

"A marine reserve at Te Matuku will be a great attraction for Waiheke Island," says Mr Pyle. Marine reserves are proving very popular. Similar numbers of people visit Leigh Marine Reserve as visit the Abel Tasman National Park.

"Te Matuku has a number of important conservation values," said My Pyle. This includes:

* Regionally significant mangrove area which contains mangrove trees which are some of the biggest in the region; * * Threatened bird species. Te Matuku contains nesting and flocking site for the threatened New Zealand dotterels and variable oyster catchers.

The reserve also includes deeper water around Passage Rock, which one of only a few islands in the Tamaki Strait.

Mr Pyle said Forest and Bird looks forward to progress with other applications. One application for a marine reserve at Kaikoura was made 10 years ago and still has not been processed.

"We would like to see all the existing applications approved as soon as possible. The delays by successive Governments in processing these marine reserve applications is just not acceptable," says Mr Pyle.



Marine reserves also help improve fishing in the area. Fish grow bigger in marine reserves and bigger fish produce more young.

Forest and Bird is also calling on the Government to commit to developing a network of marine reserves around New Zealand. Developing single marine reserve applications is time consuming and inefficient. What is needed is for the Government to design a network for New Zealand.

Forest and Bird is currently running a campaign seeking the establishment of more marine reserves, with the byline "I love marine reserves".


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