Kaikoura bill creates country's first whale, seal sanctuary

21:16, Jul 31 2014

The final reading of the Kaikoura (Te Tai o Marokura) Marine Management Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday signalling the start of the next chapter for marine protection around Kaikoura.

The bill aims to put in place management measures for the coast and sea including a marine reserve, whale and New Zealand fur seal sanctuaries, five customary fisheries areas, an advisory committee, and fishing regulations.

The measures have been nine years in the making, with the coastal guardian group Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura having put in extensive hours to reach each decision by consensus.

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith welcomed the bill's passage, saying the area was internationally recognised as a biodiversity hotspot and for its successful marine tourism and abundant fishing.

"This bill creates the largest and deepest marine reserve adjacent to the North and South Islands, New Zealand's first whale sanctuary and first seal sanctuary. It also establishes five new customary fishing areas and more sustainable recreational fishing regulations.

"These measures will benefit Kaikoura's rich marine life which includes whales, dolphins, seals, albatross, rock lobster, shellfish and finfish. It will also help to sustain Kaikoura's tourism industry, which is worth $134 million a year."

Smith said the passage of the bill had been made possible only by agreement with Opposition parties. "A compromise to amend the bill to provide for a 10-year rather than a 25-year review of the unique marine protection measures has enabled the bill to be passed now and to come into effect. I have worked on these proposals with Kaikoura MP Colin King for a decade and it is a tribute to his work that this bill is passing on his last day in Parliament."

He also acknowledged the collective effort made by the group of Kaikoura representatives including iwi, recreational, commercial and charter fishermen, and boating and conservation groups that has led to the development of the package of fisheries and conservation tools. The outcome showed that at community and national level, conservationists, commercial interests and iwi could work together on difficult issues like marine conservation, he said.

Te Korowai deputy chairman David Rae said last night he was very happy to see the bill being passed. It was the fruition of nine years' extensive efforts and a great endorsement of much long and hard work for the whole group, he said.