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Should Otago have better marine protection?

Media release

Date: 9 August 2013

Should Otago have better marine protection?

The Department of Conservation (DOC) wants to know if you think Otago‘s coast needs protecting.

Otago’s coastal marine area is discussed in DOC’s recently released draft Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) for Otago. One of the issues identified in the CMS is protection of representative examples of Otago’s marine ecosystems and habitats in a network of marine protected areas.

“This would keep our marine environments healthy and ensure our special biodiversity, including the habitats of threatened wildlife, like whakahao/New Zealand sea lions and hōiho/yellow-eyed penguins, survives into the future,” DOC’s Coastal Otago Ranger Jim Fyfe said.

He pointed to the national marine protected areas gaps analysis by DOC and the Ministry of Fisheries in 2011 that shows the Otago coast is lagging behind the rest of New Zealand.

“This report shows how low the levels of marine protection in Otago are. There are major gaps in representation with only five out of the 37 habitats described for this region represented in marine protected areas in New Zealand. Very few of our habitats and special wildlife foraging habitats are protected from pressures from the marine environment,” Mr Fyfe said.

“Marine protected areas in Otago could provide important opportunities to measure the impacts of human activities and exploitation on local biodiversity, wildlife populations or the productivity of these marine habitats and the fisheries they support,” he said.

“We want the community, Ngāi Tahu, commercial and recreational fishers, conservationists, tourism operators and local councils to tell us whether they want better marine protection for the Otago coastline and what local measures should be taken to protect marine wildlife from pressures they face.”

“Do people want to help safeguard the southern marine environment for future generations?”

You can view the draft Otago CMS on the DOC website at www.doc.govt.nz/cms. You can have your say on marine issues by filling out a submission form on the webpage. Submissions close on 13 September 2013.

DOC wants to hear your ideas about protecting New Zealand sea lions on the Otago coast. Photo: DOC

ENDS 

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