Marlborough Sounds recreational fishing park planned

Kenepuru Sound, Marlborough (iStock)
Kenepuru Sound, Marlborough (iStock)

Recreational fishing parks in Marlborough Sounds and the Hauraki Gulf have been proposed as part of an overhaul of legislation around marine reserves.

In an announcement this afternoon, the Government announced its intention to replace the Marine Reserves Act with the Marine Protected Areas Act which would exclude commercial fishing from certain areas.

Protections will create marine reserves, species-specific sanctuaries, seabed reserves and recreation fishing parks.

Environment Minister Nick Smith says the Sounds park would leave the area a haven for those seeking the "great Kiwi lifestyle".

In the first of a two-part announcement in Picton this morning, Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy say the change would stop the 139-tonne commercial take in the Sounds.

A similar announcement was also made this afternoon for the Hauraki Gulf, estimated to account for 870 tonnes of commercial catch per year.

Dr Smith believes the fish in the Sounds has greater value for recreational fishers than the commercial industry.

"[We] are intending to effectively stop the 130-tonne of commercial take in the Marlborough Sounds that will enhance the experience for the hundreds of boaties that fish in that area.

"There is more value for New Zealanders in people being able to use this 130-odd tonne of fish either in the visitor sector where people will pay more to experience the joy of catching the fish rather than it being ended up sold a t a fish shop and equally for New Zealanders as part of the great Kiwi lifestyle of being able to go to an area like Marlborough Sounds and be able to catch a fish with your children," Dr Smith said.

He says the response from recreational fishers has been positive, but the Government still has "issues" which need to be worked through with the commercial sector over fair compensation for their loss. "We're proposing a few mechanisms to do that fairly and there'll be ongoing engagement with them to make sure we get that right."

Dr Smith says marine conservation is important to New Zealand, with around 80 percent of indigenous biodiversity and more than 15,000 known species found in the sea.

The old legislation is "no longer fit for modern purpose", Dr Smith says.

"These new proposals provide a better and more flexible process for establishing and managing marine reserves and will enable species sanctuaries for not just marine mammals but other significant species such as albatross and great white sharks."

Consultation on the proposal will be open until March and will be used to finalise the proposal as part of the Marine Protected Area strategy.

3 News / RadioLIVE