Report on Public Meeting
Great Barrier Island Marine Reserve
Venue: Port Fitzroy Boating Club, Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island
Date: Saturday 10th May 2003
Chair: David Palmer, resident and Community Board member
Duration: 2.25 hours
Attendance: 90 people
David Palmer introduced Dale Tawa and Jim Flack from the Department of Conservation (DoC). They stressed the proposal document, ‘ A Marine Reserve for Great Barrier Island?’ was up for discussion and DoC wanted feedback.
Marine Reserve Presentation
Jim talked about fishing and suggested “marine reserves were the only place fish were safe.” A recap was given of the previous marine reserve proposals from the late 1980’s and another in the early 1990’s. Both failed for a variety of reasons. Feedback from islanders so far had indicated they still wanted access to particular areas. There were concerns over property values and the locals wanted public meetings to discuss the proposal.
Dr. Roger Grace (DoC) showed a 5-minute video of underwater scenes featuring deep-water reefs, sponges, kelp, black coral and fish.
Dale, Jim and Dr. Roger Grace answered questions from the floor.
Concern was expressed over the budget for this proposal, Jim agreed to respond to the request for details on how much money had been spent on reserve proposals since 1988. Dale advised funding is derived from the NZ Biodiversity Strategy.
Considerable discussion focussed on the weighting that would be applied to submissions from the residents of the Barrier compared to those from other areas. Jim Flack, DoC, “ If the people of the island are not supportive of the proposal it will not go ahead.”
The proposed area was so large it was questionable that DoC would have the resources to monitor the reserve, considering they didn’t have enough staff to manage their on-land responsibilities. DoC expected assistance from NZ Customs, Navy and MFish to help with monitoring duties. Assistance would also be required by the locals, DoC didn’t just want a reserve on paper.
There was a lot of concern regarding the increased fishing pressure on areas outside the marine reserve.
There were a lot of comments regards the lack of publicity about the proposal. Many present had only just heard about the reserve proposal, despite DoC releasing the proposal in March 2003.
Bill Cooke addressed the meeting; he felt there were more benefits to be had by keeping the proposed area open to the public. If good management of fishing practices were in place then there was no need to shut the public out. Those fishing for food do little damage to the biodiversity.
Dr Floor Anthoni discussed the impact of poor land management on the sea. Twelve out of sixteen marine reserves in New Zealand are degrading. Increases in plankton blooms and poisoned shellfish beds indicate the level of degradation in the sea.
Two motions were put to the floor to vote on.
‘That this meeting does not support the marine reserve proposal at Great Barrier in its present form.’
Out of the audience of 90 people less than 10% present voted against the motion. There were some abstentions.
‘That the minutes of this meeting be forwarded to the Great Barrier Community Board and the Minister of Conservation and other interested parties.’
No one opposed the motion, there were some abstentions.
Jim agreed to supply details on how much money had been spent so far on the reserve proposals since 1988 and how much more DoC intended to spend.