Our Seas Our Future (OSOF) is encouraged at the announcement of protection proposed for south-eastern South Island by the South-East Marine Protection Forum, with the choice of the larger area of protection favoured.
OSOF has been an active voice in addressing the global climate crisis through our More Marine Reserves brand, and overall mission to protect New Zealand’s coastal and marine ecosystems.
With less than one percent of New Zealand’s marine environment fully protected and with no marine reserves currently in the South Canterbury, Otago and Southland regions, a comprehensive network of Marine Reserves and Marine Protected Areas is essential to allow fish and other marine species a chance to thrive. Such a network will provide species in the region with some resilience from human impacts and this will in turn benefit the region as a whole.
The South East bio-region is home to some of the New Zealand’s most iconic marine animals, including yellow-eyed penguins, Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand sea lions, and various species of albatross. Many of these species are critically endangered.
While we applaud the choice of option for the larger area of protection, it does not include enough “No-Take” Marine Reserves, that offer the highest protection for ecosystem protection. We want to see all indiscriminate bulk fishing methods, marine farms and mining be prohibited in all the MPAs, and a much larger proportion of fully protected Marine Reserves included in this option.
“No Take” Marine Reserves are most effective where they include the full range of habitats. We want to see protection for habitats that are not adequately represented in the proposed network. The network must include enough no-take Marine Reserves that are big enough to provide a meaningful haven and maintain full ecosystem functions.
OSOF Spokesperson Noel Jhinku said “With less than 1% of New Zealand’s marine environment protected, we are still far off any meaningful level of biodiversity and ecosystem protection in our oceans.”
“This is a step in the right direction, however these opportunities should make every effort to ensure effective areas of full protection are included, to provide substantial networks of “No Take” Marine Reserves rather than other types of MPAs.”
As strong advocates for marine and coastal sustainability, OSOF is supportive of the action that is underway to increase protection of our marine and coastal biodiversity in the face of the global biodiversity crisis identified by the United Nations-backed panel called the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).