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Akaroa May 2005

Akaroa Marine Reserve

By Bob Meikle

May 2005

Background

I am President of the Akaroa Harbour Recreational Fishing Club (Inc) which was inaugurated in November 1993. The catalyst for the formation of the Club was the stated intention of the 'green' element, notably F&B and Friends of Banks Peninsula, supported by DOC, to create a marine reserve in Akaroa Harbour, an area established by MFish surveys to be the most popular and well used recreational fishery in the South Island.

A lengthy period of very unsatisfactory 'consultation' by these organisations resulted in the formation of the Akaroa Harbour Marine Protection Society (Inc) which registered its objects as being exactly those required by the Marine Reserves Act 1971 to qualify it as a body able to make an application for a marine reserve i.e., to promote, participate and engage in the protection of and study of marine life, the marine environment, fish and their habitat.

Reserve Application 1996

In January 1996 that Society lodged an application for a marine reserve to be created over an area at the eastern entrance of the harbour known as Dan Rogers. One of the main planks for the creation of a marine reserve was that up to that date there were no marine reserves on the east coast of the South Island. We did not regard this as a particularly valid point as it struck of the stick a pin in the map mentality and have a marine reserve somewhere along that area with disregard as to whether or not it met any of the criteria of the Marine Reserves Act, particularly as to whether or not it was representative of other areas.

Our Club was of the opinion that this application, as well as not qualifying under the Act, also unduly interfered with recreational fishers particularly because it was situated in the only area where small boat users, which often include family groups, had a sheltered place to fish with protection from the stiff north easterly winds that predominate the Canterbury coastline during summer months as well as by reason of the previously mentioned survey results. Commercial fishers were opposed to the application on the grounds that two rock lobster fishers regularly had pots within the proposed reserve area and would be unduly affected. The Maori community were also opposed on the grounds of customary use etc by them.

Alternative to Reserve

Our Club considered that the claims by supporters of the application that there were no marine reserves on the east coast of the South Island would probably carry substantial weight in making an eventual decision. To remedy and invalidate that aspect we decided that rather than just oppose the application we would select an area that was more representative of the small indented bays that are typical of Banks Peninsula to be put forward by an application under the Act for marine reserve status as an "alternative" to the Dan Rogers application. We had the support of both the local commercial fishers and the Maori community on this in respect of Flea Bay situated about 4km east of Akaroa Harbour entrance. The bay was widely fished by recreational fishers but we contended that deprivation of its use by them would not be unduly affected by a reserve as anyone with a vessel big enough to get to Flea Bay with safety had an unlimited range of other bays to use in comparison to small boat users of Akaroa Harbour.   Commercial fishers had historical use but were prepared to forgo that and similarly with the Maori community to whom it had customary significance. If approved the reserve was to be known as Pohatu Marine Reserve in recognition of the Maori name for the bay.

There was vociferous objection to our proposed application by the Dan Rogers supporters and DOC on the grounds that the Marine Reserves Act 1971 did not provide for applications to be put forward as an alternative to existing proposals. While that is true we contend that under the wider application of the law in this country any person or organisation is permitted to act in any manner of his/hers or its choosing so long as it does not breach the statutory provisions of any enactment, is not contrary to the common law and does not offend against the accepted standards of society. It is with this in mind that we asked for Flea Bay to be considered an alternative to the Dan Rogers application.

Pohatu Reserve

In January 1997 our Club in conjunction with the now, unfortunately, defunct Canterbury Recreational Marine Fishers Association (Inc) lodged an application for Flea Bay to be designated a marine reserve as an alternative to Dan Rogers. Following the normal submission process and the required approval of the two Ministers the then Minister of Conservation, Hon Nick Smith, approved the Flea Bay application and Pohatu Marine Reserve was gazetted in July 1999. No determination was made in respect of the Dan Rogers application and, indeed, has not been determined as yet.

Active Management

Our Club, commercial fishers and the Maori community, realising that Akaroa Harbour and adjacent waters could benefit from some form of active management, have since 1993, been discussing the merits of having the whole of Akaroa Harbour and an area outside of the harbour butting up to the Pohatu Marine Reserve declared to be a Taiapure. The Dan Rogers supporters and DOC would only agree to this if the applied for Dan Rogers area was exempt from the Taiapure, a proposal that we, commercial fishers and the Maori community will not agree to. The Maori community eventually lodged an application for the whole of Akaroa Harbour to be declared a Taiapure.

Taiapure

The current situation (as of May 2005) is that the Taiapure application has been subject to the required Maori Land Court hearing and the final report of that Court is expected to come to hand within the next few months. The first report and recommendations from a hearing in December 2003 resulted in an Appeal by an existing marine farmer within Akaroa Harbour on the grounds that the definition of littoral coastal waters had not been adequately addressed by the Court. At a re-hearing ordered by the appeal body the Maori Land Court heard evidence on this aspect on the 21st/22nd February 2005 as well as enabling the question of the status of the Dan Rogers marine reserve application to be re-visited. We now await with interest the further report from the Maori Land Court.

Our Club, existing membership of 140, has been carrying the banner that others are only just starting to realise will have to be held aloft if the rights of recreational fishers are to be upheld and that local active management will be far more beneficial to the marine environment than passive management of areas based on the previously referred to 'pin in the map' mentality unless there is some feature or features worthy of protection that cannot otherwise be provided. It could be that in these latter instances a marine reserve will be appropriate.

Good News

As of March 31st 2006 the Taiapure for Akaroa Harbour has been approved and gazetted. To find out more information please go here » » »

 

R A (Bob) Meikle

President

Akaroa Harbour Recreational Fishing Club (Inc)

P O Box 4307,

Christchurch

Email: evenbob@globe.net.nz


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