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Long Island - Kokomohua Marine Reserve

The Marlborough Sounds are a sinuous network of drowned river valleys, forming one of New Zealand’s most distinctive land and seascapes. Nestled in the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound are Long Island and neighbouring Kokomohua Islands, and around them extends Long lsland-Kokomohua Marine Reserve.

In 1989, members of Marlborough dive clubs voluntarily stopped taking fish around Long Island. They encouraged others to do the same, and began promoting a marine reserve for the area. With some help from the Department of Conservation, the clubs sought public input to their idea. The marine reserve was finally created in April 1993 - the South Island's first.

Long Island, Kokomohua Islands and a charted rock to the north-east, form a chain of islands and submerged reefs. The marine reserve extends 463 metres (a quarter of a nautical mile) offshore from the charted rock and from the high water mark around the islands.

The reserve protects all marine life within its boundaries, benefiting not just fish and shellfish, but also animals like seals, penguins and other seabirds that live on the land but feed in the sea.

The environment

Many features typical of the Marlborough Sounds marine environment are found within the marine reserve, from those more representative of the exposed outer sounds in the rocky north, to those typical of the sheltered inner sounds along the sides of Long Island in the southwest.

Human activity has put considerable pressure on the Sound's marine environment, and caused a marked decline in fish stocks, particularly blue cod, tarakihi, groper, crayfish and paua.

A major benefit of marine reserves is the opportunity they offer to study marine environments in their natural state. Research is being undertaken to monitor changes to the marine ecosystem with the establishment of the reserve. Initial research indicates fish stocks have increased significantly. Please be careful around scientific equipment on the sea floor. If you catch a tagged fish (outside the reserve!) return the tag and catch information (length, location) to the Department of Conservation or the Ministry of Fisheries.

Find out more on the DoC website, or by visiting the following link(s):

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