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North Nelson Marine Reserve approval welcomed

8 March 2005

North Nelson Marine Reserve approval welcomed

Forest and Bird today welcomed the decision of the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Conservation to approve the Glenduan to Ataata Point Marine Reserve near Nelson.

"This decision is a great Sea Week gift to the people of Nelson,” Forest and Bird spokesperson, Barry Weeber said.

“The decision to create the reserve is a small but significant step towards proper protection and management of New Zealand’s seas. It will help remedy the huge under-representation of the marine environment in our network of protected areas," he said

The reserve will extend from Glenduan (The Glen) to Ataata Point at the western entrance to Cable Bay contains a range of marine habitats representative of much of the eastern Tasman Bay coast. The 985 hectare reserve will include bouldery shore, rocky reef and deep silt/mud bottom habitats.

Forest and Bird applied for the marine reserve in 1999 after nearly a decade of consultation.

“Forest and Bird’s Nelson Branch promoted the reserve and organised the public consultation procedures under the Marine Reserves Act. It is a credit to the perseverance of the branch that after over 6 years the application has finally been approved.”

"While over one million hectares of land in the Nelson/Marlborough region have been protected, less than 3,000 ha of sea, seabed and inter-tidal area are protected in the region's three existing marine reserves, all of which were created since 1993.”

"These are at Westhaven/Te Tai Tapu in Golden Bay, Tonga Island on the coast of Abel Tasman National Park and Long Island/Kokomohua in Queen Charlotte Sounds, each of which protects very different types of coastal marine environments.

"People are increasingly aware that marine environments and species are as important as those on land. New Zealand’s record in marine protection lags 50 to 100 years behind our achievements in creating national parks and reserves on land," he said.

“We are well behind Australia when it comes to marine protection,” he said.

"A marine reserve from Glenduan to Ataata Point will provide a long overdue area of protected coast within easy reach of Nelson City. It would also function as a useful "wet library" for Nelson students and research organisations such as the Cawthron Institute," Mr Weeber said.

"There has been extensive investigation and public consultation on the proposal. This part of the Nelson coast was first identified as a potential area for a marine reserve in the early 1980s by the former Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Nelson Bays United Council.

“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, “they are also crucial for our understanding of fish biology and ecology that will help guide management elsewhere.”

ENDS

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