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Marine Reserve Proposal at Mimiwhangata welcomed

July 8, 2004 - Auckland

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Marine Reserve Proposal at Mimiwhangata welcomed

Forest and Bird today welcomed the proposal by the kaumatua of Te Uri O Hikihiki hapu and the Department of Conservation for a Marine Reserve at Mimiwhangata.

"This coastline is incredibly valuable for the Northland environment and economy", said Forest and Bird's Northern Conservation Officer, David Pattemore, "It's great to hear about this latest proposal for protection of Northland's unique coastal ecosystems".

"There are a number of features on this coastline that now highlight it's international importance", said Mr. Pattemore, "including the recently announced 'worlds-first' exclusion zone for large vessels, and the world-renowned Poor Knights Marine Reserve."

"This signals that the coastline of Northland is set to become the most important resource for the future economic, social and environmental well-being of the region", said Mr. Pattemore, "Marine Reserves will have a crucial role in this future".

"With this proposal, the people of Northland and visitors will be able to see spectacular marine life as it once occurred around our whole coastline, without having to travel all the way down to Leigh", he said.

The area proposed is currently managed as a Marine Park with a number of fishing restrictions, but several scientific studies have shown that this has not been able to prevent further losses at the park.

"The reality is that the larger predators are still being taken out in significant numbers, leading to flow-on effects in the whole ecosystem", said Mr. Pattemore.

"Marine reserves provide a unique opportunity to protect whole marine ecosystems, so that we can see what our marine life used to look like", said Mr. Pattemore, "they are also crucial for our understanding of fish biology and ecology that will help guide management elsewhere."

"The vast majority of Northland's coastline is open to exploitation by whoever, whenever, however", said Mr. Pattemore, "These reserves are sign that we are starting to think wisely about providing for future generations and that we recognize the importance of marine life."

ENDS

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