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Marine protection proposed for south eastern South Island

Action is underway to enhance the protection of our precious marine biodiversity in the face of the global biodiversity crisis.

An area of South Island coast and ocean the size of Auckland or three quarters the size of Rakiura/Stewart Island is being tagged for protection under a proposal supported by Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.

The Ministers have decided to progress a comprehensive marine protection network in the south eastern South Island. Public views on the areas proposed for protection will again be sought.

The South-East Marine Protection Forum last year put forward to Ministers two options for a marine protected area network from Timaru in South Canterbury, to Waipapa Point in Southland.

“After careful consideration we have decided to consult on progressing the larger Network 1 option which covers 1,267 km2 and includes 18 of the 22 coastal habitats in the Forum area, seven of 12 estuarine habitats and two biogenic habitats,” Stuart Nash said.

“This network was the option favoured by the science, environment, tourism, and community sectors of the forum, as well as one of the two recreational fishing representatives,’’ he said.

“The Government is committed to protecting our environment and valuable marine biodiversity,” Eugenie Sage said.

“We want to hear from tangata whenua, the community and stakeholders on how to progress Network 1 because it best meets the objectives for protecting biodiversity under the Government’s Marine Protected Areas Policy,” she said.

“We believe this option will create the best protection for important habitats and feeding areas for marine mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates.”

Progressing Network One will be consulted on and considered under existing legislation using the Marine Reserves Act and the Fisheries Act. The next step under the legislation is to carry out statutory processes to create the marine protected areas, which means people will have further opportunities to comment on the proposals.

The Department of Conservation and Fisheries NZ plan to release a document for public submissions later this year.

There was extensive public consultation in late 2016 when the South East Marine Protection Forum consulted the public, industry and stakeholders on 20 sites for possible inclusion in a network of marine protected areas. The Forum received more than 2,800 submissions on its proposals.

“We want to ensure that all views on implementing marine protection in this region are heard and considered,” Eugenie Sage said.

The Ministers said they had instructed the Department of Conservation and Fisheries NZ to continue working with Kāi Tahu to explore their aspirations for establishing and managing marine protected areas in the region. This includes what co-management of the proposed marine protected areas will look like.”

“The Government is committed to safeguarding healthy marine ecosystems. Once again we would like to thank the Forum for all the hard work they put in to this challenging process, and we are delighted that we can take their work forward to completion,” Eugenie Sage said.

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