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Great Barrier Marine Reserve proposal welcomed

2 August 2004, Auckland

Great Barrier Marine Reserve proposal welcomed

Forest and Bird welcomed today's notification of the Aotea (Great Barrier) Marine Reserve proposal by the Department of Conservation as a significant step forward in marine conservation.

"Our marine conservation effort lags decades behind our efforts on land, but this proposal starts to correct that imbalance," said Forest and Bird's Northern Conservation Officer, David Pattemore.

The Department of Conservation today formally notified their proposal for a 50,100ha marine reserve off the northeast coast of Great Barrier Island. The area has been reduced since the proposal was initially aired last year, with the Whangapoua estuary excluded from the reserve to allow for shellfish harvest in an area important for local residents.

"Marine reserves around the mainland of New Zealand have typically been very small," said Mr. Pattemore. "This makes them much more vulnerable to random events and flow-on impacts from fishing outside of the reserve boundaries."

"The Great Barrier Marine Reserve proposal will be New Zealand's third largest and will provide benefits for a wide range of connected habitats," he said.

Responding to claims that no-take marine reserves limit public enjoyment of the environment, Mr. Pattemore said, "As the Leigh, Poor Knights and Kapiti marine reserves experiences have shown, no-take marine reserves yearly attract many tens of thousands of people to enjoy the experience of a protected marine environment where the variety and abundance of sea-life is readily accessible."

Apart from their direct conservation value, these reserves are also very important to their local tourism and recreation economies. One of the other side effects of marine reserves is not only increased fish numbers within them, but also in the adjoining areas where they are also available to fishers.

Marine reserves can provide a win-win situation for conservation, for the local economy and for recreational fishing.

"We expect that the people of Auckland will give the proposal the support it deserves."

Notes: Currently the proportion of mainland New Zealand's coastal waters in this form of protection is less than one percent, yet about 33% of land is protected for conservation purposes.


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