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Marine reserves proposed for the Bay of Islands

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Bay of Islands community group Fish Forever has published a community consultation document that proposes the protection of 10% of the enclosed waters of the Bay of Islands with no-take marine reserves.

Two potential marine reserve sites are put forward and Fish Forever intends to generate constructive public discussion around these sites. An online submission form is available to assist this process and the public is urged to participate by visiting www.fishforever.org.nz.

The potential sites, named the Waewaetorea Reserve and the Maunganui Reserve, are the outcome of five years consultation, which included a public survey that gave the community an opportunity to suggest where reserves should be located in the Bay of Islands. The areas that are proposed were top choices both from the popular and scientific perspectives. They cover 6.3% of the Bay of Islands waters.

The proposition is that these areas become fully no- take reserves with generational review (25 years).

The marine habitats at the two sites are explored in the document, illustrating both the representative and the rare marine life and even the diverse geology that shapes those habitats. The Waewaetorea Reserve is described as a World Class Location. The Maunganui Reserve has an existing rahui adjacent to the reserve, meaning that habitat recovery is already underway. An estuarine area, Tangatapu, is floated as a site that could be made a scientific reserve under the Reserves Act 1977. The introduction of this third area of protected habitat contributes to, overall, a top-quality network of linked reserves in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

The document also requests suggestions for additional areas, of different habitat types, that could be included to bring the total area protected to 10% of the enclosed waters of the Bay.

The consultation document details why marine reserves in the Bay of Islands are crucial to protect the biodiversity of this unique coastal region. It outlines the vast benefits of marine reserves and examines associated matters such as impacts of protection, customary management, the process of implementing reserves, how they are managed and how quickly we see the effects.

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