Future for important marine habitats one step closer to resolution

The South-East Marine Protection Forum has launched a public consultation and is calling for submissions on a proposed network of marine protected areas along the South-East Coast of the South Island from Timaru to Waipapa Point. 

This particular stretch of New Zealand’s coastline boasts abundant biodiversity housed within giant kelp forests. Deep water bryozoan thickets, rare in the world, provide a habitat for many fish species and protect juvenile species from predators.

Formed mid-2014 with the support of the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Forum was tasked with providing a recommendation on which sites require marine protection. A total of 34 habitat types were mapped, along with three biogenic habitats including kelp forest, bryozoan bed and seagrass.

A two-and-a half year stakeholder consultation has since been underway to determine which sections of coastline to protect. Out of this process the Forum identified twenty areas, including nine proposed ‘Type 1’Marine Reserves, or ‘no take’ areas; ten ‘Type 2’ Marine Protected Area, with restrictions on fishing methods and on activities that threaten biodiversity or sea bed disturbance; and one kelp forest, with a proposed classification of ‘other marine protected area”.

“In our deliberations to date we have had to make some difficult choices about options for biodiversity protection. In particular, the Forum has had to carefully consider the impacts of potential marine protected areas on manawhenua and existing users,” said Maree Baker-Galloway, South-East Marine Protection Forum Chair and RMLA President.

“Forum members have identified 20 potential sites for protection from Timaru to Waipapa Point on which we must now formally consult, to get further information. Within some of the proposed sites we have also created options to be consulted on as alternatives,” she added.

Click here to download the consultation document.

Click here to make an online submission.

Click here to download the submission document.

To request a hard copy, please call 0800 Our Sea (0800 687 729). Copies are also available for viewing at local council offices and public libraries throughout the region.

In November the Forum plans to host a series of Public Information Sessions throughout the region for people to learn more about the submission process.

Submissions close 5.00pm on Tuesday 20 December 2016