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Ministers approve Kupe/Kevin Smith Marine Reserve

Hon Jim Anderton
Minister of Fisheries
Hon Chris Carter
Minister of Conservation

06 December 2006 Media Statement

Ministers approve Kupe/Kevin Smith Marine Reserve

The Kupe/Kevin Smith Marine Reserve is to be created off Wellington's scenic South Coast providing a showcase for the unique marine ecosystems found there, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton and Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

But the boundaries of the 840 hectare reserve have been altered from those originally proposed to improve enforcement and maintain opportunities for recreational and commercial fishers using the coast.

"A balance has been struck in protecting a representative slice of the South Coast marine environment while maintaining a local sustainable fishing industry," Jim Anderton said.

"The well-known fishing boats at Island Bay, as characterised in Rita Angus' iconic painting, "Island Bay", will continue to be a feature of the coastal landscape, as well as allowing an underwater wilderness area to flourish."

Chris Carter said the Kupe/Kevin Smith reserve would provide a spectacular attraction for diving, snorkelling and science right on the Capital's doorstep.

"The reserve is to be sited at the confluence of three oceanic currents. The confluence brings together warm, cold temperate and sub-Antarctic waters allowing a rich and unusual variety of sea life to thrive. Over 180 fish species are found off Wellington's South Coast," Mr Carter said.

"Victoria University's marine department has operated a field station at Island Bay for several decades. The creation of the reserve will enhance this research by providing a protected no-fishing zone against which scientists can better assess the health of the surrounding marine environment."

Mr Carter said after consulting with the applicants, he had decided to adjust the reserve's name in recognition of the part former Wellingtonian Kevin Smith played in its creation, and the significance of the area in the story of the Polynesian explorer Kupe.

"Prior to his sudden death in 2005, Kevin Smith had been a very prominent conservation director of Forest and Bird, and then became an advisor to two Ministers of Conservation. He loved the Wellington South Coast, dived there regularly, and was a vigorous advocate for protection of it. His contribution to conservation in New Zealand was huge, and worthy of lasting recognition," Mr Carter said.

"The Wellington South Coast is also significant for local Maori, and it is important the name of the reserve reflect that. Maori believe this area was where Kupe departed to return to Hawaiki after exploring New Zealand."

Mr Carter acknowledged that the reserve's boundaries had been amended from the original application. The southern boundary had moved approximately 370m to the north and the western boundary approximately 400m to the east, reducing the size of the reserve by about 130 hectares.

"The reserve as amended is still in the best interests of scientific study, even if the area is smaller. In my view, the boundary change mitigates much of the interference with fishing activities while maintaining the essential qualities and integrity of the protection sought," Mr Carter said.

Jim Anderton said he fully endorsed the Minister of Conservation’s changes to the reserve's boundaries.

“Firstly, the original western boundary bisected an area of reef. The amendments have excluded this reef from the area. It is a customary gathering area that is also popular for recreational fishing and diving spot and these users will enjoy continued access to it. Having a reef half in and half out of a reserve is always going to cause problems for enforcement," Jim Anderton said.

“Secondly, the amendments allow for fishing of blue warehou and rock lobster to continue at the extreme outside of the original area. Fishing has created the livelihoods for generations of families who are the descendents of Italian immigrants," Jim Anderton said. "Their boats reflect a Mediterranean design."

“Some of the fishing concerns have been mitigated while maintaining the essential qualities and integrity of protection sought. It is an excellent balance between protection and sustainable fishing.

"We commend the Wellington branch of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. and the Wellington South Coast Marine Reserve Coalition for their perseverance and patience during this protracted application process, the Ministers said.

The reserve proposal has also received the concurrence of Transport Minister Annette King, and will now be surveyed, gazetted and proceed to the Governor-General to be declared by Order-in-Council.

--

BACKGROUND

- The marine reserve application was submitted to the Department of Conservation by the Wellington branch of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. and the Wellington South Coast Marine Reserve Coalition.

- In May 2002 the former Minister of Conservation decided not to uphold any objections made in response to the application for the marine reserve (then 969 hectares), thus enabling the concurrence of the Ministers of Fisheries and Transport to be sought.

- As part of the process, the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) assessed the application and prepared draft advice to the Minister of Fisheries. MFish considered objections raised in the statutory consultation process and consulted further in late 2005 and early 2006. In that draft advice MFish expressed concerns about the level of interference on commercial fishers, which it considered was undue.

- This draft assessment was also sent to the Department of Conservation (DOC) who in turn advised the Minister of Conservation.

- After considering information concerning the level of interference with commercial fishing the Minister of Conservation amended the boundaries of the proposed reserve area, decreasing it by approximately 130 hectares. He then sought concurrence from his colleagues on the smaller area.

- The boundary change mitigates much of the interference with fishing activities while maintaining the essential qualities and integrity of protection sought (840 hectares). The reserve is still legally expedient.

ENDS

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