The Forum was appointed by the Ministers of Conservation and 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. There are no predetermined sites for marine protection. The Forum will first consult widely with local communities and interest groups about marine protection. They will also consider any available scientific information. Then, on the basis of that first stage of information gathering, the Forum will decide on draft marine protected areas, and will notify these recommendations for formal submissions. On the basis of all the information gathered through this process, the Forum will then make a final set of recommendations to the government, on what sites should be protected and what type of protection each site needs.
It is a three stage process.
1. Initial consultation and information gathering
2. Draft recommendations notified and formal submissions considered.
3. Recommendations finalised and provided to government.
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/