Marine Protection Planning System Modernised
29 Jan 2006
All New Zealanders are to be given a greater say on where marine protected areas should go under a new policy launched by Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton and Conservation Minister Chris Carter today.
The Marine Protected Areas Policy sets up a new system for planning where marine protected areas, including no-take marine reserves, are to be located in each region.
In future, the government expects proposals for new marine reserves to be considered by regional forums before ministers decide on them. The forums will involve a broad range of community groups with an interest in the local marine area.
"The relationship New Zealanders have with the sea is an important part of defining who we are as a people, and therefore, everyone has a stake in how we use the sea," Jim Anderton said.
"We have been successful at protecting our terrestrial environment, but we have not yet banked the biological wealth in our seas in a comprehensive network of protected areas," Chris Carter said.
"In the past our system for developing marine protected areas, particularly marine reserves, has been somewhat piecemeal. This has sometimes caused unnecessary conflict because, rightly or wrongly, different stakeholders have not felt fully included in protection processes," Mr Carter said.
"This new policy heavily reforms the old system. It aspires to a comprehensive network of protected areas encompassing the full range of our marine environments, but it seeks to ensure that the sites included in the network are chosen in a way that minimises the impact on existing users of the ocean."
The policy will see a team of experts scientifically classify the different types of marine environments around the country, and an assessment made of which environments have already been protected. Those environments that have not been protected will be tagged for consideration by local forums.
The forums will be tasked with:
1) Developing proposals for where new protected areas in particular regions should be located to plug the gaps in the marine protection network, and
2) Identifying what type of protection tool is most appropriate to each particular spot.
"Rather than different government agencies driving a range of different protection tools, the government wants these tools, such as fisheries restrictions under the Fisheries Act and the establishment of marine reserves, used in an integrated way," Jim Anderton said.
"We want a protected network of areas in the sea that is science-based but informed by the unique local knowledge marine user groups have."
"The regional forum approach should bring certainty to marine users, as all the potential sites that might be proposed for protection in an area, and their impacts, can be considered at once. This will enable a consensus to be reached on how to minimise adverse effects on existing marine users.
"Our hope is that by adopting this new approach we will make smooth progress towards the government's goal of having 10 per cent of our marine area under some form of protection by 2010," Jim Anderton said.
The government wants at least one representative example of each habitat or ecosystem type in the new network to be protected by a marine reserve. Marine reserves will also be used to protect rare and unique sites.
Existing marine reserve applications before Ministers will continue through the statutory process already triggered. This includes applications for reserves at Akaroa, Great Barrier Island, Wellington South Coast, and the Sugar Loaf Islands.
However, proposals that have not yet reached the stage of a formal application will be folded into the new system. This includes the proposal for a reserve at the Nuggets in Otago.
The new policy has been developed after consultation with key marine stakeholders.
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