Te Paepae Aotea Marine Reserve Application
Submissions Requested For Te Paepae Aotea (Volkner Rocks) Marine Reserve Application
Public submissions are now being requested for Te Paepae Aotea (Volkner Rocks) Marine Reserve Application. A joint application is being made by the Director-General of Conservation and the Whakaari Marine Protection Steering Committee. The proposed reserve encompasses a 1,444 hectare area of sea and foreshore located at and around Te Paepae Aotea (Volkner Rocks).
Marine Reserves are established by an Order-in –Council made by the Governor-General following the process set out in Section 5 of the Marine Reserves Act 1971. An extensive period of consultation began in 1998 with a public meeting and the setting up of a local steering committee. The committee has met regularly to discuss and consider different marine protection options for both Whakaari and Te Paepae Aotea. Two documents have previously been released for public comment in 1999 and 2000, resulting in the current application.
Marine Reserves are established to protect areas of sea, seabed and inter-tidal zones for “the scientific study of marine life, of such distinctive quality, or so typical, or beautiful, or unique, that their continued preservation is in the national interest”. Significant features of Te Paepae Aotea (Volkner Rocks) include a wide range of underwater features and habitats from high water to depths of over 400 metres, sub tidal habitats with diverse range of marine species, fauna with subtropical affinities at accessible depths and deep water invertebrates only recorded in this area.
Concerns over protecting the habitat for larval recruitment, breeding areas of various fish species and conflicts between different kinds of fishing methods, have led in recent years to various attempts to implement protective measures for the marine features around the Volkner Rocks and neighbouring White Island. In 1991 the Hon. Tony Ryall introduced the White Island Marine Protected Area Bill as a Private Members Bill in the hopes of speeding up protection of the recreational values of the area. In 1992 a voluntary Code of Practice was established between various users of the fisheries resource.
The establishment of a marine reserve at Te Paepae Aotea (Volkner Rocks) would mean that all forms of fishing will be prohibited within the reserve boundaries.
The Whakaari Marine Protection Steering Committee is a joint applicant with the Department of Conservation. The committee comprises representatives from Ngati Awa, Whakatohea, charter boat operators, landowners, commercial fishermen, tourist and marine mammal viewing businesses, underwater divers, Whakatane Sport Fishing Club, Royal Forest &Bird Protection Society, Ministry of Fisheries and Department of Conservation.
Whilst the objectives for the establishment of marine reserves are primarily scientific they also have a role in advancing pubic understanding and appreciation of the marine environment. The public has a right of access to a marine reserve. There are significant recreational and educational values to be enjoyed by the visitors who make the trip to the reserve. There are a number of recognised dive sites and some opportunities exist for snorkelling.
Copies of the application can be obtained from public libraries, council offices, Department of Conservation Offices throughout the Bay of Plenty conservancy, and can also be downloaded from the department website at http:// http://www.doc.govt.nz Submissions must be received no later than 14 January 2003.