South-East Marine Protection Forum
Vital opportunity for marine protection
The South-East Marine Protection Forum has recently released a public consultation document, and is calling for submissions on 20 sites being considered for a network of marine protected areas along the South-East Coast of the South Island.
The Trust will be making a submission, as this is a once-in-a-decade (or more) opportunity to improve the survival of yellow-eyed penguins at sea. We encourage anyone else interested in yellow-eyed penguins or marine conservation to also lodge a submission. The Forum has to weigh up conservation, recreational fishing, commercial fishing, and iwi interests - the outcome will be influenced by what submissions they receive, so it is vital to show there is strong support for conservation. Submissions from individuals are likely to carry a lot of weight in this, so you really can help make a difference!
If you are making a submission, we ask that you consider the following points to help protect the penguins:
- In North Otago, the proposed sites at Waitaki ("B" and "C") should be extended further north to include an area where penguins are known to be killed as fishing bycatch.
- On the Otago Peninsula, options "E" and "F" (Saunders Canyon and bryozoan beds) provide some protection for penguins and are best for overall biodiversity. They include the high-value Saunders Canyon and an area of plateau, and prohibit the most damaging fishing methods over the bulk of the bryozoan beds. This area should be extended to the south-west to cover the deep gravel foraging areas for yellow-eyed penguins.
- In the Catlins, the only offshore protection being considered adjacent to the Trust's reserve at Long Point. This is the largest colony of penguins in the Catlins, and also supports a wide range of other seabirds, marine mammals and fish. There is real potential to increase the seabird diversity here, and the site also provides an important southern "buffer" against climate change.
- In all of the sites above, and at most other sites, protection should extend out to the 12 nautical mile limit to capture a wider range of species and ecosystems, especially as penguins normally forage at least that far out to sea.
- And as well as the current recommendations, we think the Forum should ask the Government to improve the legislation by extending it beyond the 12 nautical mile limit so that it can better match where the penguins forage. We also think that sites that have not been proposed now should be considered in the future (eg Moeraki Peninsula, Nugget Point, and Te Rere in the Catlins).