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DoC brochure for Paterson Inlet 2003

Department of Conservation Brochure

Paterson Inlet Marine Reserve Application

September 2003



In July 2002 the Minister of Conservation. Hon. Sandra Lee, gave her approval for a marine reserve in Paterson Inlet.

It should be noted however that the Minister's announcement has not actually established a reserve. The approval (or 'concurrence' role) of the Ministers of Fisheries and Transport is also required before a marine reserve can be legally established. This will involve further public consultation.


The Process

The marine reserve proposal began its long journey in 1991 with the formation of the Paterson Inlet Marine Protection Committee (PIMPC), a group made up mainly of Stewart Islanders. Following extensive consultation, a discussion document was released and submissions on the proposal were received in March 1993, with over 228 responses. About 82% of submitters supported a marine reserve. Almost half (105) of the responses came from Stewart Island residents and 70% of them supported the proposal.

In the discussions which followed, several boundary changes were considered by the committee to accommodate the Hunter family of Ulva Island and some recreational fisher interests. After some consideration the committee recommended that the original proposal should remain unaltered.

In June 1995 the Director General of Conservation approved the proposal and it was advertised nationally for further submissions. Of the 286 submissions received 184 were objections. The main concern was the loss of recreational fishing opportunity. To ensure the department was able to gauge the local community response, a further questionnaire was sent out to island residents and non resident ratepayers in August 1995. Over 176 responses were received with the following responses:

  • 29% favoured full protection (the proposal as it stood), with another 40% supporting the marine reserve if line fishing zones were allowed with it;
  • 14% did not support the proposal but supported some form of protection within Paterson Inlet;
  • 17% did not support a marine reserve in Paterson Inlet.

In September 1996 the application, with objections and submissions in support, was sent to the Minister of Conservation. In July 1997 the Minister directed the department to discuss the objections with the Hunter family, Southland Recreational Marine Fishers Association and to address iwi concerns. Since that date:

  • The department has made a boundary change in Sydney Cove to accommodate some of the Hunter family objections.
  • Discussions have been held with iwi and their concerns have been relayed to the Minister of Conservation throughout the process.
  • The exclusion of the east end boundary from the marine reserve to allow for customary and recreational take.
  • The objection posed by the Southland Recreational Marine Fishers Association, regarding navigation through the proposed reserve was also addressed by an assurance that simply having fish or fishing equipment on board does not, and will not, constitute evidence of an offence.


Where to Now?

The proposed reserve, now waiting for concurrence covers 1077 hectares, which is about 10% of Paterson Inlet. That equates to approximately the same size as Big Glory Bay. If approved and gazetted the proposed reserve will provide a remarkable chance for scientific study in an outstanding part of NZ and give the opportunity to observe significant natural features in an undisturbed state for generations to come. What better way to illustrate to visitors to Stewart Island the full diversity of the marine environment in the crystal clear waters for which the island is renowned.



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