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Akaroa Marine Reserve decision quashed

The Akaroa Harbour Marine Protection Society are the applicants of a small marine reserve (530ha) on the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.  The application was made in 1996.
On the 20th August 2010 the Hon Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Conservation declined the Akaroa marine reserve on the grounds that it will “adversely affect recreational fishing”. The High Court of New Zealand has since told the Government to reconsider its decision to reject a proposal for a marine reserve in Akaroa. Akaroa Marine Protection Society are now encouraging the Minister to make a new decision.

This History
The Akaroa Harbour Marine Protection Society applied for a marine reserve near Dan Rogers’ Bluff in Akaroa Harbour in 1995.
The Conservation Minister declined the application because a reserve would interfere with recreational fishing.
The society appealed to the High Court saying the minister did not weigh up the positives of the proposed reserve and the effects on recreational fishing.
Judge Nathanial Whata found that the application must be reconsidered The NZMMS also wrote a letter View the court decision document and news release

The pressure is now on the Government to appprove the marine reserve.  Stuff have covered the story:
Lots of good comments posted on this page would be great.

Judicial Reviews were also the topic on “The Court Report” on TVNZ 7 last week and here is the link if you would like to watch it On Demand TV:

How you can contribute
If you are interested in helping this process move along, you can email or write to the Minister of Conservation and urge her to now approve the Akaroa marine reserve.  Some points you could make are:

* The Akaroa Harbour is seriously depleted, heavily fished and needs protection.
* The coastline of mainland NZ needs more marine reserves.  There is only one tiny reserve on the entire east coast of the S.I. (Pohatu)
* Tell her where you are geographically so that she understands this is an issue of national importance.
* Quote from her own words ‘Conservation is the responsibility of all New Zealanders.  …  DoC cannot do it alone…  engaging hearts and minds, helping more people and organisations actively participate in conservation..’  Source:  Department of Conservation Statement of Intent 2011-2014.
* Marine reserves are good for the economy, especially in Akaroa now that we have so many cruise ships visiting and our visitor numbers are increasing and people enjoy the harbour cruises and the scenic coastline and natural environment.
*  With a depleted Harbour, it is short-sighted and flawed judgement to support the continuation of fishing as a priority over a marine reserve when 88% of the remainder of the Harbour is still available for fishing.
* You may have many other points you wish to make to support the application.
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Hon. Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Conservation, Private Bag 18041, Parliament Buildings, Wellington 6160 (no stamp required from within NZ)

Past discussions about the Akaroa Marine Reserve proposal journey:
Opinion of MarineNZ editorial Team The undue effect on rec fishers appears far from being justified. The interesting twist here is the ruling the judge gave in the Maori Land Court for the Taiapure hearing. He ruled that the MR would compliment the taiapure and the benefits were substantial. It seems incredulous that the MOC would ignore this significant ruling.

Another interesting twist in the rec fisher impact argument is that the Akaroa application (14years of documents) cover a time period in which the local shallow water fishery has all but collapsed. There is now no commercial fishing in Akaroa! This truly is a fight over the last fish. This is the backdrop to this decision - shallow habitats and fish communities in a state of decline/collapse. How can an impact on fishing then be an argument if fishing is buggered?

The Minister recognises that any marine reserve will adversely affect fishing (in the immediate area of the reserve of course), but fails to recognise that the Marine Reserve would ultimately improve fishing in the general area.  Dr Roger Grace comments that where she goes wrong is her understanding of what "undue" may mean in this context.  All other marine reserves (perhaps with exception of some of the Fiordland ones) affect recreational fishing, and if you take her logic to its foreseeable conclusion NONE of the existing Marine Reserves north of Akaroa would have ever been established!! Opinion of MarineNZ editorial Team 

To come to your own decisions on this, review the following documents  and to get involved:

Green party MP Gareth Hughes questions the Minister of Conservation
Join the Forest and Bird Web blog

See Wade Doak's discussion forum - most recent blogs on top


Fish Forever - Bay Of Islands Maritime Park Inc blog:

Why was Akaroa declined?

Community Disappointment - media coverage:

Fight for Marine Sanctuaries - Bay Chronicle


Judicial Review

MPA status letter

The Ministers Decision 

The Marine Reserve Application 1996

Answers to objections 1996

Akaroa Harbour Marine protection Society Submission to DOC 2006

Local Perspective

 Ngai tahu fishery survey

Partial protection versus full protection

 Response from community to Hon Kate Wilkinson decision

Fishing survey in Akaroa Harbour Sponsors