Marine reserve for Kaikoura

A new marine reserve, whale and seal sanctuaries, and fishing reserves have been announced for Kaikoura.

The government will introduce a bill to enable the new reserves, with the aim of improving the management of Kaikoura's coast and ocean.

Conservation minister Nick Smith said Kaikoura's marine environment was particularly rich because of its deep 500m canyon so close to shore.

"These measures will benefit Kaikoura's whales, dolphins, seals, albatross, rock lobster, shellfish and finfish as well as helping to sustain Kaikoura's $134 million a year tourism industry," he said.

The new measures include a 10,000ha marine reserve focused on deep waters of the canyon, a 4600 square kilometre whale sanctuary, and the Ohau point fur seal sanctuary.

Three small maitaitai reserves have been established to protect customary fishing beds, along with two larger taiapure fishing reserves, or locally-managed recreational fishing areas.

Recreational catch and size limits have also been altered due to concern about fishing stocks.

WWF-New Zealand said the new measures would protect wildlife and benefit New Zealand's economy.

"Looking after our environment brings term long-term economic benefits and it is great to see that approach being taken here," said executive director Chris How.

"This package should be complemented by an end to oil exploration off the Kaikoura coast. It would be a tragedy to see all this good work, and the local economy put at risk by an oil spill," he said.

The Kaikoura Marine Management Bill will be introduced to parliament this week, with the aim of having the new protections in place by 2015.


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