Kaikoura council unanimous in anti-oil message

190214 News. EMMA DANGERFIELD/Kaikoura Star. Banners on the beach protest against deep sea drilling in Kaikoura
Emma Dangerfield

190214 News. EMMA DANGERFIELD/Kaikoura Star. Banners on the beach protest against deep sea drilling in Kaikoura

The Kaikoura District Council is sending its strongest message to date to the Ministry of Energy and Resources, expressing its opposition to off-shore oil exploration in its submission on the 2016 block offer.

The Kaikoura council has submitted each year based on concerns of the effects of exploration and drilling, including the community's reliance on a healthy marine life for the tourism sector as well as fishing and recreation.

The district's EarthCheck status is also a factor as Kaikoura has a commitment to environmental sustainability.

Of particular concern is the effect of seismic investigation and drilling on the local marine environment.

Additional points which have been raised in this year's submission include studies which are being undertaken on the biological importance of the Kaikoura marine area. This includes a three year study launched by Whale Watch and the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust on the submarine canyon of Kaikoura, which aims to assess why the Kaikoura canyon is such a magnet for sperm whales.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) also plans to install permanent monitoring transects in the Hikurangi Marine Reserve, which was established last year through the Kaikoura Marine Management Bill, to measure the effectiveness of the reserve.

District planner Rachel Vaughan, who prepared the submission, told council the 2016 block offer was beginning to straddle Kaikoura's coastline. If the coastline was worthy of protection, council needed to make sure the effects of any outside activity did not impact on the protection measures which include the marine reserve as well as a whale and fur seal sanctuary, five customary fishing areas and amateur fishing regulations.

Councillors Darlene Morgan and Tony Blunt both felt the submission could be even stronger given the district's EarthCheck status and New Zealand's inability to clean up any potential oil spill and an amendment was put forward to request the exclusion of the entire proposed off-shore block offer 2016 release area. 

The council voted unanimously in favour of the submission. 

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 - Kaikoura Star

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