Independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird is welcoming a proposal from a local community group for two marine reserves to be created in the Bay of Islands.
Fish Forever released the proposal at a function last night (Thursday) at the Copthorne Hotel in Waitangi.
Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate Katrina Goddard says the current lack of any marine reserves in the Bay is typical of the poor level of marine protection found throughout New Zealand waters.
“The Bay of Islands is hugely popular with tourists, recreational anglers, and boaties, and there is an urgent need to set aside a portion of the area for full marine protection. These reserves would allow significant pockets of marine life to flourish.
“Right now, snorkellers in the Bay of Islands commonly see kina barrens – vast areas where the absence of crayfish and snapper has allowed kina to multiply, killing off kelp, leaving rocks bare, and starving juvenile fish of important habitats.
”Easily accessible marine reserves like those proposed by Fish Forever draw huge numbers of visitors, protect biodiversity and help replenish fish stocks across the wider area,” Katrina Goddard says.
“More than 380,000 people visit the Goat Island Marine Reserve every year. People fishing outside the marine reserve’s boundaries are a common sight so it’s pretty clear there would be more than just conservation benefits to having no-take marine reserves in the Bay of Islands.
“Less than one per cent of New Zealand’s total marine area is protected by marine reserves.
We need marine reserves that protect all the various ocean habitats and marine life, whether in deep offshore waters, or in areas like the Bay of Islands.
“We hope that plenty of New Zealanders take the opportunity to have their say on Fish Forever’s proposal,” Katrina Goddard says.