Marine protection area a ‘concern’

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by Chris Tobin

A proposed marine protection area off the east coast of the South Island will have a multimillion-dollar impact on the inshore fishery, chief executive of industry body Fisheries Inshore New Zealand Dr Jeremy Helson says.

“I’m not able to say it will put people out of business but there will be impacts.

“In Timaru, the inshore fishery is an important part of the local economy.

“Any imposition will be a concern [in] that it will have an impact in the long term.”

On Saturday, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash announced plans for a marine protection network stretching from the coast off Timaru to Waipapa Point in Southland.

I’m not able to say it will put people out of business but there will be impacts.

Dr Helson acknowledged there had to be protection but it had to be in places where it was certain of serving a useful purpose and serve as a legitimate protection from risks.

“This [proposal] has been out there for a long time and is the culmination of a process to look at options for the east coast [of the South Island].

“It has been engaged constructively.

“But it’s a matter of what the Crown wants to achieve and deciding what is appropriate.

“A good example is that Niwa and others are saying that sedimentation is the greatest risk to the inshore.

“One needs to ask how serious people are for protection from the most serious risk,” Dr Helson said.

Network 1

Last year the South-East Marine Protection Forum put two options to Ms Sage and Mr Nash for a marine protected area network. They have opted for the larger network 1 option, which covers 1267sq km and includes 18 of the 22 coastal habitats in the forum area, seven of 12 estuarine habitats and two biogenic habitats.

“This network was the option favoured by the science, environment, tourism and community sectors of the forum, as well as one of the two recreational fishing representatives,” Mr Nash said.

The Department of Conservation and Fisheries New Zealand plans to release a document for public submissions later this year.

Fisheries Inshore NZ would be preparing a submission.

Forest & Bird said the decision by the ministers was a significant win for the environment.

“This proposal will see New Zealand gain our largest inshore marine reserve to date,” Sue Maturin, Forest & Bird Otago-Southland regional manager, said.

“The whole southeast of New Zealand is such an important area for marine life.”

A 2017 economic report commissioned by Fisheries Inshore NZ showed Canterbury benefited most from the seafood processing industry together with Nelson-Tasman-Marlborough and Auckland.

The processing industry employed 2789 people in Canterbury with output of $984million.

Statistics from 2015 show there was a total commercial fish catch of 66,251 tonnes in the southeast coast fishing management area