Fisheries New Zealand and the Department of Conservation (DOC) are seeking public feedback on a proposed network of marine protected areas off the southeast coast of the South Island. The proposed network includes six marine reserves, where marine life would be fully protected and fishing banned; five 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 between Timaru and Waipapa Point in Southland. Fisheries New Zealand and DOC are encouraging people to have their say on the proposals. “This proposed network, covering almost 1300km2 between Timaru and Southland, could be a significant step towards protecting marine biodiversity in this area,” said Fisheries New Zealand’s director of fisheries management, Stuart Anderson.
“We want to hear everyone’s views on the network – if people think it will be effective, and how it is likely to affect local communities.” The proposal contributes to protecting biodiversity under the Government’s Marine Protected Area Policy and will help New Zealand meet its international obligations to establish marine protected areas over 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.
DOC planning director Natasha Hayward says these marine habitats are currently under pressure from the effects of human activities, including climate change. “This spectacular coastline is home to some of our most endangered species such as hoiho/yellow-eyed penguin, toroa/northern royal albatross, and rāpoka/New Zealand sea lion.
It also has rare deep-water bryozoan thickets that protect juvenile species from predators, and giant kelp forests that are habitat for many fish species.” People have from 17 February to 17 April to make submissions on the proposed network and individual marine protection measures within it.
Online submissions can be made through survey.publicvoice.co.nz/s3/semp consultation.