Petition seeks to ban vehicles on beaches

Sea Society founder Sian Mair, of Invercargill, is petitioning to ban vehicles from Catlins...
Sea Society founder Sian Mair, of Invercargill, is petitioning to ban vehicles from Catlins beaches Surat Bay (shown) and Cannibal Bay, because of the potential negative effects on wildlife such as the New Zealand sea lion (also shown at Surat Bay. Photos: Sea Society/Supplied
An Invercargill conservationist wants vehicles banned from key Catlins beaches.

Environmental group Sea Society founder Sian Mair believes wildlife at southern beauty spots Surat Bay and Cannibal Bay, near Owaka, would be better off without having to contend with cars, ATVs and motorbikes.

The 25-year-old Southern Institute of Technology environmental management student told the Otago Daily Times she was shocked during a recent visit to the area to see an ATV and truck "buzzing" a resting sea lion at Surat Bay.

Dunedin had a bylaw preventing non-emergency-vehicle access to its beaches, and she did not understand why the Catlins should not also have one.

"NZ sea lions are endangered, and it’s a privilege for us to be able to see them in their natural habitat.

"Allowing vehicles on beaches for recreational purposes causes the destruction of dune vegetation, disturbance of wildlife, alien species being introduced, erosion, litter and the exploitation of marine animals."

Ms Mair said she had set up an online petition to further her cause, and contacted the Clutha District Council to question it on local rules.

Council chief executive Steve Hill said Clutha did not have a bylaw banning vehicle access to beaches.

"Unless there is a bylaw to the contrary, beaches in New Zealand are classified as roads. Controlling vehicular use of beaches would require council to undertake a consultation and bylaw process."

He said the council was likely to consider the question later this year, when a staff report on the subject was complete.

Doc Owaka biodiversity ranger Cheryl Pullar said the office had received reports of vehicles driving too close to sea lions at Cannibal Bay, although she was not aware of the incident described by Ms Mair.

Despite Doc favouring measures to protect wildlife, she said a blanket vehicle ban could prove complicated.

"There could be issues for boaties accessing the beach, and others with legitimate needs."

She and fellow rangers sometimes used ATVs to access remote parts of local beaches.

"What’s important is the way people are driving, ensuring safety."

Mr Hill said the council would welcome further dialogue with Ms Mair.

richard.davison@odt.co.nz


 

Comments

Locals have been managing their access to this public domain for many many years.

Wildlife flourishes in this marvelous area despite a single nimby sjw from another area on a personal crusade trying to dictate to others how they should go about their business.

Locals of this area have huge respect for wildlife, it's why we choose to live here amongst it.

Let's not let one person wreck the balance for all, we can safely and respectfully maintain our use of these beaches as we always have done now and in the future.

Totally disagree. CDC beaches get used appallingly by goons/hoons on wheels. Beaches should be natural spaces where wildlife & humans can be in nature. If vehicles really need to cross... CDC beaches could be re-categorised as walkways (that certain types of vehicles can cross at low speed eg maximum 10 kph, at shortest safe distance to get to destination eg boats being driven to waters edge).

Many locals on CDC beaches hate seeing beaches, wildlife & humans trying to commune with nature being endangered & disturbed.

At my local beach, it's cut up as far as eye can see by 4wheelers & jeeps. My dogs are deaf & blind - an awful accident waiting to happen with teens on motorbikes. People lying down or kids playing in the dunes that 4 wheel bikes thunder straight over. Tragedy waiting to happen. Recently saw a beautiful shell sand castle made by kiddies who were sitting in a small clump of dunes ... That a 4 wheeler had driven over. Could have been a maimed or dead child if they'd been obscured behind those reeds when the teen thundered over in his 4 wheeler.

Give nature& humans a place to exist &coexist quietly! CDC - we don't need to "utilise" everything.

I disagree with Natman. I agree with and support Sian Mair. I want to sign her petition! Where do we sign?

How can I sign up. Excellent initiative. Cars should not threaten and harass wild life. Certainly not the locals.

I totally support Ms Mair with her petition. I have seen numerous buzzing of Sea lions on the beaches at Surat and Cannibal Bays. Time to pull the Catlins in line with modern day conservation values.

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