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Two options to protect areas of ocean off the east coast of the South Island will be considered by Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage. GRAPHIC: SUPPLIED

Marine life off the Timaru coast may have more protection under proposals to the Ministry of Fisheries.

The town is at the top end of a proposed network of marine protected areas, which runs to Waipapa Point in Southland, which have been under review by the South-East Marine Protection Forum since 2014.

The forum, which included Timaru Ngai Tahu representative John Henry, released its final report to the Government on Wednesday last week.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage thanked the forum members for their three years’ work.

Ms Sage and Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash would be considering the two options proposed by the forum.

Both the two options proposed for the southeast coastline would create a Type 2 marine area off the Timaru coast, but the size of the area varied between the two proposals.

A Type 2 Marine Protected Area (MPA) restricts some types of fishing methods and a Type 1 MPA bans all fishing.

Network 1 suggested an expansion of the proposed MPA, running from 6km north of the Tuhawaiki Mataitai reserve to Patiti Point and then south of the Waihao River.

Network 2 proposed the original site, which runs from south of the Mataitai reserve down to Pareora.

The first option is supported by the environment, tourism, community and science sectors of the forum, as well as one of the two recreational fishing representatives, while Network 2 is supported by commercial fishing representatives and the other commercial fishing representative.

Ngai Tahu supported all the proposed MPAs in the network, besides the MPA off Long Point in the Catlins.

Mr Nash said while it was not yet clear what steps would be needed if new marine protections were required for the southeast coast, all parties would be consulted and the public could make submissions before any changes occurred.