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Marine Reserves & MPA Networks

On February 13th 2008 the New Zealand Government released a Marine Protected Areas Implementation Plan. This release follows several years of policy debate and development. It is clear and obvious that fisheries interests have slowed this work from the outset.  For a country that established the first marine reserve and marine reserve legislation in the 1970's this has been a long time coming. Over the coming months we will expand this section of our website as the process is now starting to get beyond the Wellington bound policy makers to becoming operational in our communities.

Overseas some countries notably Australia and the US have gone down this road more than a decade ago. Their experience was that the early years were fraught with difficult policy and conflict ridden attempts to deal with wide ranging interests in the marine management. Few reserves were created. In the last five years this trend has dramatically altered in both Australia and the US - there has been successful MPA processes run which have developed clear biodiversity goals and ended in the establishment of significant networks of highly protected reserves being created.

Here in New Zealand this process is finally underway. It is a critically important time to become informed and to get involved. Below is an outline of the Marine Protected Areas Policy document. The MPA Implementation Plan document and Policy documents can be downloaded from this link

Read the press release from ECO critical of the new Plan

Download the MPA Implementation Plan from our document archive 2.8 mb

Here's a preview of the MPA Implementation Document

    *   Executive Summary
    * Commonly Used Terms
    * Marine Protected Areas Policy – Introduction
          o New Zealand Commitment to Marine Biodiversity
          o Contribution of other Marine Management Initiatives to Marine Biodiversity Protection
    * MPA Policy
          o MPA Policy Objective
          o MPA Definition
          o MPA Policy Scope
          o MPA Policy Responsibilities
          o Integrating Marine Management Tools to Build an MPA Network
    * MPA Policy – Implementing Principles
          o Network Design Principles
          o Planning Principles
    * MPA Policy Implementation Plan
          o Stage One, Preparation for Implementation
          o Stage Two, Strategic Analysis
          o Stage Three, Development of an MPA network
          o Stage Four, Monitoring and Evaluation

Executive Summary

This document sets out the policy and implementation plan to protect New Zealand’s marine biodiversity by establishing a comprehensive and representative network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

The Government is committed to ensuring that New Zealand’s marine biodiversity is protected, and the MPA Policy is a key component of this commitment. The MPA Policy objective is to:

Protect marine biodiversity by establishing a network of MPAs that is comprehensive and representative of New Zealand’s marine habitats and ecosystems.

Key components of the MPA Policy are:

i. A consistent approach to classification of the marine habitats and ecosystems

Classification of marine habitats and ecosystems will help to ensure the MPA network is representative. The policy is based on an approach to classification that incorporates best available scientific information and which is approved by Ministers. This consistent approach to classification will be applied to the marine environment as part of the MPA planning process.

ii. Mechanisms to co-ordinate a range of management tools

These include: a protection standard that will be used to assess whether individual management tools or a combination of management tools provide sufficient protection to a site for it to be designated as an MPA; and planning processes that enable a multi-agency approach to MPA planning for both nearshore and offshore MPAs.

iii. Inventory to identify areas where MPAs are required

An inventory will be taken of existing marine areas that have some level of protection, and the extent to which those areas cover representative habitats and ecosystems
(based on the classification of habitats and ecosystems) will be assessed. The protection standard will be used to determine whether existing areas have sufficient protection to be designated as MPAs. The inventory of MPAs will be continually updated as new areas are protected.

iv. A nationally consistent basis for planning and establishing new MPAs

The MPA Policy outlines processes for MPA planning that are based on a common approach to habitat and ecosystem classification and which are directed by the priorities identified in the inventory process. Planning for offshore MPAs will be implemented at a national level, while planning for nearshore MPAs will be implemented at a regional level. Both the nearshore and offshore processes will be designed to allow for constructive engagement with tangata whenua, user groups, and the public to ensure that MPA planning is inclusive, without compromising biodiversity protection objectives. Both processes will be underpinned by a commitment to minimise the adverse impacts of new MPAs on existing users of the marine environment and Treaty settlement obligations. Sponsors