Marine protection consultation postponed

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Fisheries New Zealand are postponing public consultation on the proposed network of marine protection for the southeast South Island.

Both agencies recognise the lockdown under alert level 4 may limit people’s ability to effectively participate in the 2-month consultation process, which was due to end on 17 April.

The proposed network includes 6 marine reserves, where marine life would be fully protected and fishing banned, 5 marine protected areas, which would impose a range of restrictions to fishing, and one kelp protection area where commercial harvest of bladder kelp would be prohibited. There is currently no marine protection in this area.

DOC planning director Natasha Hayward says consultation will be postponed with a view to restarting it once COVID-19 restrictions have eased.

“Unfortunately, with the disruptions to people’s lives and work under the lockdown, and restrictions on accessing the consultation document at libraries and DOC offices, people may not be able to participate in the consultation process as they wish.”

All completed submissions and those still in progress through the Public Voice online submission portal will be saved, as will submissions sent via email or post.