Editorial 113

Editorial by Dave Moran

Dave Moran

The New Zealand Government is Pro Marine Reserves – Yeah Right!


One of the things I enjoy about being involved with divers and the dive industry is the people that you meet. In general divers are usually down to earth people plus they seem to have their feet firmly on the ground!

Once a year a couple of people are recognized for the efforts they have either put into diving or evolving environmental issues, or a mixture of both. At the recently held New Zealand Underwater Association’s (NZUA www.nzunderwater.org.nz) AGM two awards were presented The Leo Ducker Award and Wyland Foundation – Dive New Zealand Magazine Recognition Award – one person can make a difference.

Department of Conservation takes a sideways step with Marine Reserves.

On 2 July the New Zealand press reported that: MPs were told that the Department of Conservation (DoC) can no longer make applications for new marine reserves. DoC director-general Al Morrison commented, ‘This Government has signalled that it doesn’t think the department should be both applicant and decision maker over Marine Reserves (MR) and I would expect, consistent with that policy, that MR will be applied for by third parties and the department will be the processor of those.’

His comment is not strictly accurate because the Fisheries Minister makes the final decision. This caused some controversy in 2008 when the then Minister, Jim Anderton, rejected a DoC application for a reserve off Great Barrier Island despite the Conservation Minister approving it in 2005.

Under the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy (2000) there is a target of having 10% of the marine environment in a network of Marine Protected Areas by 2010. The first MR was created at Leigh in 1975, 34 years ago! It is interesting to note: New Zealand currently has 33 MRs protecting 7.63% of coastal marine environment and 0.31% of the total marine environment (coastal and offshore waters). Most of the 7.63% is very large reserves at the Kermadec and Sub Antarctic Islands. Mainland MRs cover just 0.19% of coastal waters.

In theory the current National Government cannot pull out of achieving the target of 10% by 2010 because it is part of New Zealand’s agreement under the Convention on Biological Diversity. I would suggest most observers realize that’s not going to happen. There’s also an issue regarding how the 10% is spread. As noted above only 0.19% of New Zealand’s coastline is protected as MRs.

When you think about it in those percentages it really is a sad joke.Without DoC actively pursuing possible sites for MRs it will be up to community organizations to make applications. This sounds okay but we all know in reality such applications are expensive and time consuming. Few people have the energy to battle through the paper war process.

It makes you wonder if this is a cunning plan/excuse for the Government to side step its responsibility of meeting the 10% target by 2010?

WIN a Dive New Zealand/Oceanic Backpack!! Send us some wording (email divenz@divenewzealand.co.nz subject line ‘billboard entry’) suitable for a Tui (New Zealand beer) billboard promotion – ie: New Zealand Government is pro Marine Reserves -Yeah Right!

We will choose a winner and send them one of these excellent backpacks and publish some of your entries in the October/November issue Note: This is just a fun competition, entries will not be placed on real bill boards.

For more information on marine reserves visit www.forestandbird.org.nz

Dive Buddies – have your say!

It’s great seeing many of you jumping on the Dive Buddies site to have your say. I even enjoy those who have a crack at me – all good dialogue and food for thought which is the intention of the discussion group. Also good to see people posting their pictures. If you have an event coming up don’t forget that you can list it under events. Get your message out there!

To become a member is simple. Just log onto www.divenewzealand.com and click on Dive Buddies – Discussion Forum. See you there!

If you’re escaping the winter chills to a tropical destination, we wish you safe travels and heaps of fun diving. If you’re staying at home, think about jumping into a drysuit because winter diving can be amazing – crystal clear water in places – fantastic!

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