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Marine reserve a crown for conservation capital

Media release

South Coast Marine Reserve Coalition & Wellington Branch, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society

6 December 2006

Marine reserve for Wellington ­ a crown for the conservation capital

³After more than fifteen years of community effort we're delighted and relieved at today¹s announcement that a marine reserve will be established on Wellington¹s south coast,² said Andrew Cutler, spokesperson for the South Coast Marine Reserve Coalition and Wellington Branch of Forest and Bird, the joint applicants for the reserve.

"Locally and internationally marine reserves are being recognised as economic and ecological success stories. We are convinced that this reserve will be a tremendous environmental, educational and economic asset to Wellington.²

Mr Cutler said that the applicants were sure that the whole community would now embrace the reserve.

³We hope that everyone who has participated in the process, both for and against, can now look ahead and work together, with the Wellington community, to implement this reserve. We also look forward to local iwi, Te Atiawa and Ngati Toa, taking a leading role in its management. We think there is a great opportunity to build a sustainable economic and environmental future around this asset and we are optimistic that people will see the opportunity, and grab it.²

³This will be one of the most accessible marine reserves in New Zealand - literally at the end of the bus-route from the centre of the capital city. It also links the Victoria University Marine Laboratory, the planned Marine Education Centre and the F69 dive site. Individually they are important, but linked by the marine reserve, they are a world-class group of scientific, educational, recreational and tourism resources.²

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³In terms of direct economic benefit, the Department of Conservation estimates that the reserve will be worth at least $2.5 million annually to Wellington through increased tourism, diving and recreational activity, and the use of local Island Bay businesses.²

³The fishing industry has been successful in convincing the Government that the boundaries of the reserve needed altering to reduce the impact on the commercial Lobster and Blue Warehou fisheries. While we are disappointed at the Minister of Fisheries¹ decision to cut more than 120 hectares from the area applied for, and don¹t believe the original boundaries would have had an undue impact on fishers, we are confident the final reserve is still large enough to be ecologically successful.²

Mr Cutler said that many people deserved thanks for helping during the application process.

³Forest and Bird members have donated tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours supporting this application. The City and Regional Councils have supported the application, as have MPs from across the political spectrum. Key people on the Marine Reserve Coalition such as Colin Ryder, Jonathan Gardner and Michael Harte spent hundreds of hours in meetings, and preparing documents. Altogether this has been a huge effort.²

³We would also want to acknowledge the people who were involved in the application, but have passed away since the process began.²

³We think it is very fitting that the Ministers has proposed that the reserve will be named after Kevin Smith who was a leader in the early days of the application, and who lived in the local community.²

³We would like to remember Bruce Dix who managed the application process for the Department of Conservation, and who was passionate about this coast and the sea-life that lived here.²

³We would also like to acknowledge Max Heatherington who for many years led opposition to the reserve on behalf of recreational fishers. While we did not agree with Max¹s views, we got to know him and respected both him and his advocacy.²

³Thanks to today¹s decision, Wellingtonians will soon be able to enjoy diverse and rich marine life on their doorstep. Wellington is the conservation capital of New Zealand, and this is its crown.²


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