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Tapuae marine reserve proposal welcomed

19 January 2005 - Wellington

Tapuae marine reserve proposal welcomed

Forest and Bird welcome the proposal by the Nga Motu Marine Reserve Society for a Marine Reserve south of New Plymouth.

"This marine area and surrounding islands is a biologically rich area", said Forest and Bird's Senior Researcher, Barry Weeber. "It's great to hear about this latest proposal for protection of Taranaki's unique coastal ecosystems."

"The proposal covers 1547 ha and includes the areas surrounding the southern-most Sugar Loaf Islands of Seal Rocks/Waikaranga, Mataora/Round Rock, Pararaki/Seagull Rock and Motuotamatea/Snapper Rock", said Mr Weeber. "Currently there are no approved marine reserves on the West Coast of the North Island apart from around Kapiti Island."

Part of the area proposed for a marine reserve is currently managed as the Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Park with a number of fishing restrictions and restrictions on mining in the park area, but scientific studies have shown that only with no take areas do recreational target species like blue cod increase in abundance.

"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 Weeber. "Marine reserves are also crucial for our understanding of fish biology and ecology that will help guide management elsewhere."

"The vast majority of the Taranaki coastal area is open to exploitation by whoever, whenever, however", said Mr Weeber. "These reserves are a sign that we are starting to think wisely about providing for future generations and that we recognise the importance of marine life."

Notes:
1. The proposed reserve runs from Paritutu to the mouth of the Tapuae Stream and includes about half of the Sugar Loaf Island Marine Park.
2. The area includes over 418 species including 88 fish and 50 seaweeds.
3. The proposal has been put forward after extensive consultation.
4. For more information refer to the Nga Motu website at www.seasense.org.


ENDS


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