The NZCA's submission on Proposed Southeast Marine Protected Areas
IntroductionSubmitted 29 July 2020: Read the NZCA's submission on the proposed Marine Protected Areas in the Southeast of the South Island.
Submission date: 29 July 2020
Submitted to: Department of Conservation and Fisheries NZ
The Legislative Basis for the New Zealand Conservation Authority submission
1. The New Zealand Conservation Authority (the NZCA) was established under the Conservation Act 1987, with members appointed by the Minister of Conservation. It is an independent statutory body with a range of functions, but primarily acts as an independent conservation advisor to the Minister and the Director-General of Conservation.
2. The NZCA has a growing role as an objective advocate on matters of national significance and interest in the conservation arena and provides high quality independent advice to the Minister of Conservation and to the Department of Conservation (DOC) on its strategic direction and performance. Marine biodiversity is a matter of national importance; the NZCA has consistently identified marine protection in its strategic priorities, and has developed marine principles that address governance, conservation and protection, and sustainable use of the marine environment (attached as Appendix One).
3. The NZCA has a range of powers and functions, under the Conservation Act 1987, as well as under other conservation related legislation. Under the Conservation Act, Section 6C(2)(c), the NZCA has the power to “advocate the interests of the NZCA at any public forum or in any statutory planning process.”
4. The NZCA has consistently advocated for protection of the marine environment, including making a submission on the 2016 Marine Protected Areas Act Reform.
5. Following the logic of the above powers and functions, the NZCA supports work to establish a marine protection network in the southeast of the South Island and appreciates opportunities to provide feedback on how this will be achieved.
6. The NZCA submission is based on their analysis of the Proposed Southeast Marine Protected Areas: Consultation Document.
7. The NZCA does not support Option 1: Maintaining the status quo. The marine biodiversity in this region is currently unprotected and with increasing and emerging contemporary pressures, such as climate change and a growing commercial fishing industry, the ecosystems in this area will continue to suffer.
8. The NZCA strongly supports the implementation of the proposed network, as presented as Option 2 in the consultation document.
9. The Department of Conservation (DOC) has set a series of conservation “Stretch Goals” to be achieved by 2025. One of these Stretch Goals is to have a nationwide network of marine protected areas in place, representing New Zealand’s marine ecosystems. The NZCA strongly supports these Stretch Goals and has required that all departmental planning documents, as they are reviewed, include them and indicate how plan objectives will contribute to their attainment. The NZCA is of the view that if the DOC Stretch Goal is to be achieved by 2025, this proposed Marine Protection Network must be implemented in its entirety.
10. The Authority find that the proposed network achieves the MPA Policy objective by providing a comprehensive network of marine habitats and ecosystems that are representative of the regions habitat types.
11. The NZCA supports a co-management of the MPAs by Ngāi Tahu and the Crown. This approach is in line with the NZCA’s marine principles. It is vital that decision-making is informed by traditional knowledge of tangata whenua, along with new sources of information and research and robust science, in order to ensure the marine environment will be governed in accordance with the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
Te Umu Koau Marine Reserve (D1)
12. In their 2016 submission on the proposed reforms to the management of marine protected areas, the NZCA proposed that the protection of biodiversity is paramount, and that varying levels of use are provided for, including consideration of existing and future uses and values. In the instance of D1, the NZCA urges an approach that will achieve this objective by ensuring a balance between biodiversity protection and sustainability.
13. D1 is a valuable Marine Reserve, offering protection to a wide variety of habitats within a relatively small area; in addition, it is the only reserve to represent deep reef and estuarine habitats. It will be important to manage sustainable use of resources in this area; and, in doing so, take account of the rights of customary, individual, and corporate users.
14. The area of D1 encompasses Puketeraki takiwa and is on the boundary to Moeraki. The two Runanga have members that practice customary and commercial fishing operations within the area of the proposed marine reserve. The NZCA is of the view that the reserve would unduly affect existing users, as the affected iwi will be significantly impacted. The NZCA encourages a mutual resolution to the establishment of D1 to ensure longevity in the marine protection of this area, and notes that the core issue highlighted by Ngāi Tahu is in the scale of the D1 proposal.
15. The NZCA suggests exploring reducing the size of the D1 area to achieve a balance between the conservation of marine biodiversity, and the sustainable fishing practices of Moeraki and Puketeraki Runanga.
16. An alternative solution, which the NZCA suggests is worthy of consideration, could be for Te Umu Koau to be a Type 2 MPA. In this way, it might be possible for the breadth of habitats to be protected, prohibiting fishing methods that involve dragging gear across the seabed (i.e. bottom trawling, dredging, Danish seining), but still permitting methods utilised by recreational and customary fishing practices.
17. This type of MPA can allow certain types of fishing, if they are consistent with the purposes and principles of the Fisheries Act 1994. In particular, crayfishing via the use of craypots, may be permitted as a condition of the creation of the reserve, thus enabling the runanga to continue the running of a lucrative fishery.
 Counter to the Cost and benefits assessment of D1 in the Appendices document, pg42