At the final council meeting for the year, held yesterday, Environment Southland Councillors agreed to make a submission in support of a proposal that would create a Marine Protected Area for the Haldane Estuary in the Catlins.
The Government has committed to conserving at least 10% of New Zealand’s coastal and marine area by 2020 through their Marine Protected Areas Policy.
“They are currently leading a review on how to protect our marine environment to ensure we have the most effective approach for sustainably managing our marine environment and enhancing, protecting and restoring marine biodiversity,” said Environment Southland in its announcement.
The South-East Marine Protection Forum has released a consultation document proposing 20 new marine protected areas along the coastline from Timaru to Waipapa Point. One of these sites falls along the Southland coastline – the Haldane Estuary in the Catlins.
If agreed, the marine protection area for Haldane Estuary would mean some restrictions on mainly commercial fishing and dredging at the estuary and could result in changes to the Regional Coastal Plan being required.
“Our Regional Coastal Plan describes Haldane Estuary as geologically significant and relatively unmodified by structures, reclamation, or non-point source discharges. The plan also notes that parts of the estuary retain significant natural character, especially towards the seaward end, and that the coastal landforms are regionally significant and of scientific and educational value,” they said.
For this review, the Government is consulting on a new policy for marine protected areas in the territorial sea.