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Now and for the Future



Alert #5- June 2003
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Marine Reserve proposal for Great Barrier Island

Dear [ supporter ]

The Department of Conservation (DoC) have proposed the largest ever marine reserve in New Zealand's coastal waters (53,000 hectares) for the north-east coast of Great Barrier Island.
The Submission deadline was 30th June is now 31 July.
DoC have consistently refused to conduct public meetings in Auckland on this proposal.

If you are one of the 800+ people who were told to go PDF yourselves by DoC when you asked for a brochure to be posted to you, do not despair. At the bottom of this Alert introduction is a powerful online submission tool that allows you to complete the DoC form and then follow through with a few extra questions that we feel are relevant.

The marine reserve process
as established by the 1971 Marine Reserve Act.

The first move is a proposal. A period of public consultation follows and then DoC will decide whether or not to proceed with a formal application, having taken account of the comments received to the original proposal. The formal application will be made to the Director General DoC. He/she will then make a public notification. We, the public, then have two months to object. Director General has one month to reply and then all is referred to the Minister of Conservation. If the Minister is satisfied that the application meets the criteria in the Act he seeks concurrence decisions from the Ministers of Fisheries and Transport. If all three are agreed the marine reserve is declared. The Auckland Conservator has made it clear that this reserve application will be made under the old 1971 Act. How that can occur when a new Marine Reserve Act is imminent is not clear.

The marine reserve that is subject to a formal application may be very different in size, extent, boundary definition etc than the one outlined in the original proposal. For example, the North Taranaki marine reserve application was for an area that was completely different to the boundary options proposed in the original proposal. Likewise, the stalled Wellington South Coast application and the successful Te Tapuwae O Rongokako application. Our experience has been that the proponents use the first consultation process to determine the level of risk to their intended outcome and then modify their proposal to ensure the smoothest possible passage of their application.

It is for that reason that we continue to urge the public NOT to cherry pick locations within the boundaries of the proposed 53,000 hectares that you are "prepared to concede".

If there is merit in declaring a Great Barrier Island marine reserve in the context of the current Marine Reserves Act then the current proposal should be evaluated on the merit claimed for it. DoC must be prepared to back itself and provide evidence and analysis of the multitude of benefits that it has claimed to date.

The Public Consultation Process
DoC have refused to hold public meetings in Auckland. Their focus has been on the Great Barrier Island community. They have told us that the reserve has "strong support from Great Barrier Islanders, and that they would have the biggest say in whether it went ahead". The Department is not telling the truth about community support for the proposal. We were there at three meetings on the Barrier to witness a mere 16 people out of 220 attendees (less than 10%) voice their support for DoC's proposal.

option4 and Marine Reserves
option4 are not against marine reserves in principle. We are, however, adamant that a coordinated approach to their establishment and meaningful public consultation surround any proposal that is contemplated. Neither option4 or NZRFC or NZBGFC have been consulted prior to the launch of any of the current marine reserve proposals in circulation - this is unfortunate, as many of the really silly aspects of the proposals could well have been addressed constructively and cooperatively, rather than competitively, under time pressure. Sound scientific evidence should be the minimum requirement for any proposal put forward. For example - if for some reason you were sympathetic to a marine reserve you might be inclined to support a modified reserve boundary ... but how inclined to do that would you really be if you later found out that there were plans in hand for other no-take areas in reasonably close proximity? Certainly, the Auckland Conservancy have identified the south east coast of Barrier as an area warranting protection - exactly the same weighting and emphasis as they gave the northeast coast.

We contend that you cannot make a decision on the Great Barrier proposal until you have certainty about the full extent of the Auckland Conservancy's ambition for no-take areas.

Furthermore, we are paying attention to the work of Dr Floor Anthoni. He has assembled a remarkable body of work based on observation of our marine environment over many years. The effects of water quality degradation cannot be underestimated. Whilst it would appear that the mainstream scientific community are all too willing to dismiss his analysis, we have found much of what he has to say enlightening, although quite disturbing.

"It is sad that scientists and DoC remain uninformed about the seriousness of the situation, even though it is there for all to see.
Why have no surveys been done since 1990? Obviously, a marine reserve will not 'revert this environment to what it once was', as repeatedly claimed by DoC and others."

Please, take the time to visit the website - try reading the FAQ section as a starter

The Great Barrier marine reserve debate is not just about 53,000 hectares, or poor consultation and notice. It is about inconsistencies in policy and principle, misrepresentation, selective reporting, exclusion from proper process, blind adherence to protectionist ideology, and institutional contempt for legitimate alternative interests.


Background Information Package
This includes the Proposal Document in both its original form and rebutted, as well as meeting reports and links to other Marine Reserve information

To Make your Submission, please go here

If you have friends who can not get online then there is a PDF of the submission form available at and a copy of the map of the proposed reserve area at

If you have received this Alert, thanks to the efforts of others, please consider subscribing to the regular Updates and Alerts on other fishing related matters. Your rights to go fishing for food cannot be ignored.
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Regards from the team at option4

[ footing ]