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Marine reserve off Waiheke Island to open

Marine reserve off Waiheke Island to open

Te Matuku Marine Reserve off Waiheke Island comes into force on Thursday next week (4 August 2005).

The 690-hectare reserve will protect Te Matuku Bay, one of Waiheke’s largest and least modified estuaries, and includes an area directly outside the bay around Passage Rock in the Waiheke Channel. It will be managed by the Department of Conservation.

DOC Auckland Area Manager Beau Fraser said people were welcome to visit the new marine reserve but needed to observe the rules for the area.

“People are welcome to come to Te Matuku Marine Reserve to picnic, swim, snorkel, kayak and watch birds etc but may no longer fish, collect shellfish or take anything else from within the reserve area.”

Boats are free to travel through the reserve or anchor in the bay. Boaties are allowed to carry fishing gear and fish on board so long as they are not fishing in the reserve, said Mr Fraser.

The discharge of pollutants and introduction of living organisms into the reserve is also prohibited.

The boundaries of the marine reserve are the high water mark around Te Matuku Bay and the bays at its entrance. Boundary points outside the bay are at the western edge of Whites Bay, a pillar buoy south west of Passage Rock, Kauri Point on Ponui Island and the eastern side of Otakawhe Bay. The small marine farm in Te Matuku Bay is excluded from the reserve.

DOC will have a vessel in the area off and on during the first year of the marine reserve to provide information to people who use the area.

Te Matuku Marine Reserve includes a unique sequence of habitats from coastal forest on land to saltwater wetlands, mangrove forest, beaches, rocky shores, broad inter-tidal mudflats, and reef and deeper water in Waiheke Channel. It is an important area for marine and coastal wildlife including a wide variety of resident and migratory shorebirds, fishes, seaweeds and invertebrates.

Scientific studies are underway in the marine reserve, and local Waiheke schools, Waiheke High and Te Huruhi, are involved in a community shellfish monitoring project there.

The marine reserve, which originated from a Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society proposal, was approved in March 2003 and comes into force 28 days following its gazettal on 7 July 2005.

ENDS

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