The Forum was appointed by the Minister of Conservation and the Minister for Primary Industries. The Forum’s job is to recommend to the government what sites are deserving of marine protection and what type of marine protection the sites need.
It is a three-stage process.
- Initial consultation and information gathering
- Draft recommendations notified and formal submissions considered.
- Recommendations finalised and provided to government.
The Forum initially consulted widely with local communities and interest groups. They also considered any available scientific information.
On the basis of that first stage of information gathering, the Forum consulted on 20 proposed sites for possible inclusion in a network of marine protected areas along the South-East Coast of the South Island from Timaru to Waipapa Point. Submissions closed on 20 December 2016. 2803 submissions were received.
The Forum have reviewed the information provided in the submissions and are now deliberating on a final set of recommendations on what sites should be protected and what type of protection each site needs.
What is marine protection?
Under the Marine Protected Areas Policy an MPA is defined as “An area of the marine environment especially dedicated to, or achieving, through adequate protection, the maintenance and/or recovery of biological diversity at the habitat and ecosystem level in a healthy functioning state”.
The Forum’s recommendations about what type of protection each site needs can range from banning certain fishing techniques (particularly those that affect the sea bed) to limiting commercial fishing through to banning all “takes” of any sea life (marine reserves). There are multiple solutions available to the Forum.
The Forum’s recommendations must attempt to minimise impacts on users of the marine environment. Consultation is one way of determining where people fish and recreate, and therefore where marine protection is likely to have a negative impact. Consultation will also help determine what areas people believe are special and want to see protected in some way.
The consultation and then formal submission process should take about 18 months. After considering the information and options collected, the Forum will recommend preferred sites and scope for the marine protected areas to the Ministers of Conservation and Primary Industries.
The South-East Marine Protection Planning Forum’s area is the coastline between Timaru in the north, to Waipapa Point on the southern coast. This is part of the “Southern South Island coastal bioregion”, one of New Zealand’s 14 marine “biogeographic regions” (bioregions).
Members of the Forum represent the interests of tangata whenua, commercial fishing, recreational users, conservation groups, tourism, aquaculture, marine science,local government and communities.
More information on the process
- Marine Protected Areas Policy http://www.doc.govt.nz/publications/conservation/marine-and-coastal/marine-protected-areas/marine-protected-areas-policy-and-implementation-plan/
- MPA Implementation Guidelines http://www.doc.govt.nz/publications/conservation/marine-and-coastal/marine-protected-areas/marine-protected-areas-classification-protection-standard-and-implementation-guidelines/