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Marine protection advances

8 December 2005 Media Statement

Marine protection advances with three new marine reserves

Three new marine reserves have been approved as part of ongoing efforts to preserve and nurture New Zealand's marine life, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton and Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

New marine reserves will be formed at:
- Whangarei Harbour (231 hectares)
- Volkner Rocks in the Bay of Plenty (1290 hectares)
- Parininihi in North Taranaki (1759 hectares).

All have received the approval of the Ministers of Conservation, Fisheries and Transport, and will now be surveyed and recommended for gazettal.

"These reserves are located in spectacular marine environments, and will add some significant new dimensions to New Zealand's network of marine protected areas," Jim Anderton said.

The reserves contain nationally important marine life and marine habitats, such as volcanic reefs, rare corals, distinctive and rare sponge gardens, tidal flats, and a vast array of fish species. One is at the southern limit for Maui's dolphin, and another offers superb diving in the midst of an increasingly important tourism spot.

Chris Carter said the new additions would bring the total number of marine reserves around New Zealand to 31. The area now protected in marine reserves was about 7.5 per cent of New Zealand's territorial sea, although the majority was around remote offshore islands.

"These reserves are a good step forward in improving the extent of marine protection in our vast marine area. They have been under discussion for 10 years or more, and it is terrific to see them finally reach fruition," Mr Carter said.

The new reserves leave just four reserve applications awaiting decisions from ministers under the current Marine Reserves Act.

Once decisions have been made on the remaining four applications, a new system for locating marine protected areas, including marine reserves, is to be introduced. The new system is laid out in a new Marine Protected Areas Policy, due to go to Cabinet shortly.

"In essence the new policy is designed to achieve a greater consensus on what areas in different regions of the country are proposed for marine protection, prior to proposals proceeding to ministers," Chris Carter said.

"In future it is intended that the government will only establish marine reserves after they have been through the regional planning and consultation laid out in the policy."

All three of the new marine reserves have been altered in shape and size in response to concerns from different marine stakeholders.

Specific details on each are attached. Maps are available.

Te Paepae Aotea (Volkner Rocks) Marine Reserve

Te Paepae Aotea reserve lies around the Volkner Rocks, a collection of emergent rock stacks and reefs 55 km north east of Whakatane and 5 km north west of White Island, a very popular summer recreation area.

The volcanic and oceanic nature of the site provides many unique features and habitats. It has particularly clear waters to 40 m depth, with a dense canopy of brown kelp (Ecklonia radiata), many fish species and notable invertebrates including some rare soft corals, sponges, rare anemones and black coral. The variety of steep faces, caves, archways and boulders, and the high species diversity, make the reserve of particular interest to recreational divers and as a site for scientific study.

The Te Paepae Aotea rock stacks themselves are a sacred site for Mataatua tribes. The reserve extends for the most part 1 nautical mile from each of the rock stacks, except in the south west where an adjustment has been made to ensure that the Volkner south reef, an important site with an international reputation for the quality of kingfish caught there, continues to be available to recreational and charter boat fishers.

Parininihi Marine Reserve on the North Taranaki coast

Parininihi reserve covers 1759 hectares from Katikatiaka Pa in the north to Pariokariwa Point 5.5 kilometres to the south, and extends seaward two nautical miles (3.7 km).

The reserve contains distinctive sponge gardens, which are visually stunning and scientifically interesting. Fish in the area include blue and red cod, blue and red moki, gurnard, John dory, kahawai, tarakihi, trevally and snapper. The area is also used by marine mammals such as Maui’s dolphin and New Zealand fur seals.

The boundaries of the reserve will accommodate fishing in two adjoining areas; an inshore area extending out to sea for about 750 m between Pariokariwa Point and just north of Waipingau Stream, and, as a result of community consultation, an area within a 500 m radius of Pariokariwa Point.

The reserve has been under discussion for 10 years.

Whangarei Harbour Marine Reserve

The reserve will consist of two marine areas, one around Motukaroro (Passage) Island, and the other at Waikaraka. In total the reserve will cover 231 hectares or 2.2 per cent of Whangarei Harbour.

The reserve will act as an important nursery for the spectacular marine life in Whangarei Harbour. The seabed surrounding Motukaroro Island is a feeding ground for an unusually high diversity of fish, and the reserve will include mangroves and tidal flats that support a myriad of marine animals and seabirds.

After consultation, the proposal to include Motumatakohe (Limestone) Island in the reserve was removed.

The reserve has been under discussion for 12 years, and was developed by the past and present students of Kamo High School in Whangarei.


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