2nd July 2009
The Department of Conservation (DOC) can no longer make applications for new marine reserves, MPs were told today.
Labour and Green MPs have reacted angrily saying there would be few, if any, new reserves as a result.
Green MP Sue Kedgley asked Department of Conservation director-general Al Morrison at a select committee hearing today about the issue.
“This Government has signalled that it doesn’t think that the department should be both applicant and decision maker over marine reserves and I would expect, consistent with that policy, that marine reserves will be applied for by third parties and the department will be the processor of those,” Mr Morrison said.
“I would expect consistent with that policy we would not be the applicants for marine reserves, that others would be and we would process them.”
DOC general manager for research and development Kevin O’Connor told the committee that DOC would still support applications that arose out of the Marine Protected Area policy.
Under that policy different groups, such as fishers, Maori and locals, come together as a Marine Protection Planning Forum and when they agree on a proposal DOC processes the application.
Under the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy (2000) there is a target of having 10 percent of the marine environment in a network of Marine Protected Areas by 2010.
Former conservation minister, Labour MP Steve Chadwick, said without leadership and help for applications many reserves would not have been created.
“We set a target and we went out to meet that target, that target’s obviously gone and that’s really sad for marine protection.”
She disagreed that DOC was both applicant and final decision maker as the Fisheries Minister could veto applications — that had happened in 2008 when Jim Anderton rejected a DOC application to name an area off Great Barrier Island a marine reserve despite the conservation minister approving it in 2005.