Date: 22 June 2012 Source: Office of the Minister of Conservation
A proposal to establish five marine reserves on the South Island’s West Coast has gone out for public consultation – bringing them a step closer to reality, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson says.
The new reserves are Kahurangi (8466ha), Punakaiki (3558ha), Okarito (4641ha), Gorge (847ha) and a small educational site at Ship Creek near Haast (16ha).
Kahurangi and Okarito will become the two largest marine reserves on New Zealand’s mainland coast and, in total the five reserves will provide protection for more than 17,500ha of sea and foreshore.
“Last year, Minister Phil Heatley and I announced plans to progress proposals to establish these reserves and it is very pleasing to see that they are closer to becoming a reality,” Ms Wilkinson says.
“This is a significant development for the West Coast. The region is already renowned internationally for its rugged beauty and the establishment of these marine reserves will be an added draw card for the area.”
Ms Wilkinson says the Government is committed to ensuring that New Zealand’s marine biodiversity is protected. Around seven per cent of New Zealand’s territorial sea is already protected in 34 marine reserves, and there are proposals underway to establish a further three reserves around the subantarctic Islands.
Public submissions on the proposed West Coast marine reserves close on August 22.
Britton Broun – +64 4 817 8266 or +64 21 244 9354