Government unveils new marine sanctuary near Timaru

The Government has announced a new marine sanctuary on the South Island's east coast.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage and Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash made the announcement on Saturday.

Nash said the Government had been given two options from the South-East Marine Protection Forum in 2018. It has decided to pick the larger one.

"We have decided to consult on progressing the larger Network 1 option which covers 1,267km squared and includes 18 of the 22 coastal habitats in the Forum area, seven of 12 estuarine habitats and two biogenic habitats," Nash said.

"This network was the option favoured by the science, environment, tourism, and community sectors of the forum, as well as one of the two recreational fishing representatives."

The sanctuary would cover an area of South Island ocean and coast the size of Auckland, or three quarters the size of Rakiura/Stewart Island.

Fisheries NZ and the Department of Conservation will release a document for public submissions later in 2019.

"We want to hear from tangata whenua, the community and stakeholders on how to progress Network 1 because it best meets the objectives for protecting biodiversity under the Government's Marine Protected Areas Policy," Sage said.

The South-East Marine Protection Forum consulted the public, industry and stakeholders in 2016 over a list of 20 sites that could possibly become marine protected areas. It received more than 2800 submissions at the time.