Agencies are inviting public feedback on the proposed network, which is unchanged from that initially consulted on in February-April this year.
The proposed network includes six marine reserves, where marine life would be fully protected and fishing banned, five marine protected areas, which would impose a range of restrictions to fishing, and one kelp protection area where commercial harvest of bladder kelp would be prohibited. There is currently no marine protection in this area between Timaru and Waipapa Point in Southland.
DOC Planning Director Natasha Hayward says agencies are pleased to be able to recommence consultation following its withdrawal in April due to the COVID-19 restrictions under Alert level 4.
“It’s important that everyone gets the chance to have their say on the proposed marine protected areas, which is why we are consulting for a further two months, now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased.
“We want to hear from the public to get their views on establishing a network to protect a range of coastal and estuarine habitats and feeding areas for marine mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates.”
Submissions made earlier this year on the proposed network have been saved and can still be used, says Fisheries New Zealand’s Director Fisheries Management, Emma Taylor.
“We appreciate many people have already invested considerable time and effort into submissions that were sent in prior to consultation being withdrawn.
“We will be checking with all submitters to see if they want to include their submission unchanged or take the opportunity to update or withdraw it.”
Public consultation was started on 17 February 2020 and was withdrawn on 9 April due to New Zealand’s COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, which limited people’s ability to participate meaningfully.
Agencies have put additional measures in place to enable an effective public consultation process under COVID-19 restrictions, including more places where people can view the consultation document at DOC offices, visitor centres and libraries. Hard copies are also available on request.
People have two months from 3 June to 3 August to make submissions on the proposed network and individual marine protection measures within it.
DOC and Fisheries New Zealand are continuing to consult with Treaty partner Ngāi Tahu about the proposed network and their aspirations for their rohe moana.
Once consultation closes, the submissions will inform the Minister of Fisheries’ and the Minister of Conservation’s final decisions on the marine protection proposals.