The Minister of Conservation, Hon Eugenie Sage, was in Dunedin yesterday at Otakou Marae, attending the last meeting of the South-East Marine Protection Forum (SEMPF). Also attending, on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries, the Hon Stuart Nash, was the Director of Fisheries – Marine, Stuart Anderson from MPI. Both came to personally thank the Forum for the work they have done over the last three and half years.
The Forum, established in June 2014 by the Ministers of Conservation and Primary Industries was tasked to recommend to government what sites, from Timaru down to Waipapa Point in Southland, are deserving of marine protection and what type of marine protection the sites need. Throughout the process the Forum was supported by the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
In her address to the Forum, the Minister stressed the importance of protecting marine biodiversity for the benefit of future generations and said she looked forward to receiving the Forum’s recommendations.
The Director of Fisheries, Stuart Anderson also endorsed the importance of the Forum’s work.
Forum Chair, Maree Baker-Galloway spoke of the journey the Forum has been on and of the huge commitment each member has made on behalf of iwi, stakeholders and other community interests.
“This process has been part of Forum members’ lives for three and a half years. Each member, past and present, deserves recognition and huge thanks for their efforts.”
In October 2016, the Forum released its consultation document detailing 20 sites for possible inclusion in a network of marine protected areas along the South-East Coast of the South Island. By the time consultation closed in December 2016, 2803 submissions had been received.
This year the Forum has been engaged in its final deliberations. This has included reviewing all the information it held for the 20 sites, including details from submissions and additional fisheries information provided by the Ministry for Primary Industries. The Forum also took into consideration other sites proposed in submissions and suggested boundary amendments.
The Forum has used the information gathered during this process, as well as the content of the submissions from the formal consultation process, to improve its understanding of the south-east South Island marine environment and affected people, to deliver informed recommendations.
The Forum’s Recommendations Report will be made public in February 2018.
For further information:
Forum Chair: Maree Baker-Galloway
Ph: +64 3 450 0736 or +64 27 295 4704
Media Liaison: Gillian Thomas 0274272254