After three years of talks, an independent advisory group has failed to agree on a plan to protect Otago's marine reserves.
Instead of a consensus between the fishing industry and environmental interests, two recommendations have been put forward, causing the Minister of Fisheries to take a swipe at commercial fishing operators.
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The south east coastline of the South Island is home to some of our most endangered species, such as the royal albatross, the yellow-eyed penguin and the New Zealand sea lion.
It's also the only region in the country without any form of marine protected area, which Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says isn't good enough.
"We've got an international commitment to protect 10 percent of our seas, and there's nowhere on that South Canterbury-North Otago Coast that's protected at the moment," she says.
After 3000 public submissions and three years of discussion, the forum tasked with coming up with a single option for the area has instead offered up two, after failing to find consensus amongst all interested parties.
"As the Minister of Fisheries I'm a little bit disappointed with that approach," says Stuart Nash.
The area is 19km out and stretches from Timaru to Waipapa Point.
Network 1 would see over 1200 square kilometres of ocean protected, and includes six no-take marine protection areas. It would ban commercial harvesting of bladder kelp north of the Otago Peninsula.
It has the backing of the environment, tourism community and science sectors.
Network 2 is a quarter of the size, has three no-take marine protection areas and has the backing of commercial and some recreational fishers
"Network 1 closes three times the area, and will have a significant impact on the rock lobster fishery and the school shark fishery," says commercial fishing representative Simon Gilmour.
Minster Nash is disappointed with what he's calling a last minute stand by commercial fishing operators.
"I think they could have acted with a little more integrity," he said.
The ministers will now decide on the two recommendations.