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Appendix C: Examples of how processes for creating marine protected areas may work

Example 1: Collaborative process

A local community group has joined forces with tourism operators. They want to reduce negative impacts on toheroa shellfish by preventing activities in a small area of the coastline on 90 Mile Beach known to be important breeding grounds for the species.

Although the area is small, the success of the species could have wider benefits for a community that relies heavily on tourism and fishing operations to contribute to the local economy.

The area was not identified through the Government’s oceans research programme, but the local community feels strongly about this issue and has completed a joint proposal requesting that a species-specific sanctuary be established.

The proposal is assessed by officials against several criteria, including whether there is enough information to make the case for a sanctuary and how the creation of a sanctuary would contribute to New Zealand’s broader network of marine protected areas.

The community group has done a good job of getting together all readily available evidence and has been working hard to get the buy-in of other local stakeholders including local iwi and recreational fishers. Government officials provide feedback on the proposal before it is formally presented to Ministers.

Because this proposal is for a species-specific sanctuary, it is presented to the Minister of Conservation. The Minister considers the proposal and presents it to colleagues, and a joint decision is made to progress the proposal.

Iwi and fishers have agreed in principle to the proposal but still have reservations about how the sanctuary might affect them. The submitters consider that they can come up with an approach that works for everyone and have expressed an interest in taking forward their proposal in a collaborative way.

It is agreed that the collaborative approach is appropriate, and Ministers set terms of reference for the collaborative approach, including the maximum area of coverage that can be proposed and a reporting timeline.

The collaborative group has formed a governance board that includes representation from iwi and fishers, and the board is expecting to submit an update report to Ministers in the coming months. The update will include an economic impact assessment commissioned by the governance board that shows both the costs and benefits to the area and the particular stakeholders associated with the development of a sanctuary.

Example 2: Board of inquiry process

Research commissioned by government agencies and undertaken by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) identifies extensive beds of large kelp off the East Cape of New Zealand. The researchers consider that the kelp beds should be protected, because the taxonomy and natural history of the kelp is not yet fully understood. Kelp beds are highly productive ecosystems that create habitat for juvenile fish and marine invertebrates.

Relevant agencies jointly advise Ministers that a seabed reserve would be a suitable response to protect the kelp beds.

The area in question is located within a current exploration permit area under the Crown Minerals Act 1991. Officials meet with the permit holder to establish how the proposed seabed reserve would affect activities. Satisfied that the reserve could be established (with alterations) without compromising the investment already made by the exploration company, officials formally present a proposal to the Minister for the Environment, because it is for a seabed reserve.

The Minister considers the proposal and presents it to colleagues. The proposal outlines that there could be some effects on fishing in the area, so a joint decision is made to progress the application but via a board of inquiry. The independent board of inquiry process is chosen because the reserve could form a significant component of the national system of reserves and there may be significant implications for different industries.

Ministers establish the terms of reference for the board of inquiry, including when they expect a recommendation to be made, and appoint the board. The board commissions an economic impact assessment and calls for submissions on the proposal.

After the inquiry process, the board provides its advice to Ministers that a seabed reserve be established. The proposed reserve area has been altered slightly from the original proposal to take account of oil and gas activities occurring under an existing permit in close proximity to the proposed reserve. Even with amendments to the reserve area, it has not been possible to address all concerns raised by the fisheries industry. However, the board found that the impact on fishing would be minor and the environmental benefits of protection would exceed those impacts.