Otago marine protected area forum group announced

Dunedin environmental lawyer Maree Baker-Galloway, at St Leonards, is looking forward to helping...
Dunedin environmental lawyer Maree Baker-Galloway, at St Leonards, is looking forward to helping bring a marine protected area to Otago. Photo by Linda Robertson.
The group which will lead the fight to change Otago's status as the only region not to have marine protection will be led by Dunedin environmental lawyer Maree Baker-Galloway.

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced on Saturday the appointment of a 14-member community-led forum to consider marine protection for the Otago coastline. The forum's members include representatives from conservation groups, the fishing and tourism industries and scientists.

It has been charged with finding a consensus around the marine protection options for the coast between Timaru to the north and Waipapa Point in the south.

''It is my ambition that this group will follow the success models of forums that have established marine protection in areas such as Fiordland, the West Coast and the Subantarctic Islands,'' Dr Smith said.

Despite Otago's ''spectacular coastline being home to some of our most endangered species such as the yellow-eyed penguin, the northern royal albatross and the New Zealand sea lion'' it was without marine protection, Dr Smith said.

Ms Baker-Galloway, who works for Anderson Lloyd, said her appointment was ''very exciting'' and she was looking forward to the challenges of bringing a diverse group of people with a range of interests and who were often in conflict together to understand each other's point of view.

Another challenge would be to understand the complex science, wildlife and fishing information they would need to digest.

''It's going to be technically complex.''

She anticipated for the first year the group would gather information from a variety of sources, then take time to understand it, before coming up with some draft ideas to present to the public.

''For this to be enduring the public has to have a real opportunity to take part and help shape it.''

The collaborative approach was different for many when it came to environmental resource management but she was hopeful it would have a positive outcome for Otago.

The forum was expected to convene next month, with the expectation its recommendations would be delivered to the Government in late 2015.


Otago MPA members

Maree Baker-Galloway (chairwoman), environmental lawyer; Neville Peat, Dunedin city councillor and Otago Natural History Trust chairman; Sue Maturin, Forest and Bird Otago Southland field officer; Philippa Agnew, Oamaru Blue Penguins' resident scientist and PhD student; Fergus Sutherland, Catlins ecotourism operator; Nelson Cross, retired Nugget Point fisherman; Tim Ritchie, co-founder Paua to People and recreational paua harvester; Carol Scott, Southern Inshore Fisheries Management Company chief executive; Simon Gilmour, CRA 7 executive officer; Ate Heineman, Carey's Bay fisherman; Dr Chris Hepburn, University of Otago Aquaculture and Fisheries Programme director; Steph Blair Ngai Tahu, Awarua Runanga, Invercargill; Edward Ellison, Ngai Tahu representative, Otakou runanga kaumatua; John Henry, Ngai Tahu, Arowhenua runanga chairman John Henry.

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