• Nick Smith

Conservation Minister Nick Smith today promised a $1 million dollar boost in this year's Budget for marine conservation.

"We have made huge strides over the past two decades in land-based conservation but we are miles behind in our approach to the marine environment. With the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, we have an international responsibility to provide some leadership during 1998 International Year of the Oceans. While 30 percent of our land area is set aside for conservation, less than 0.1 percent of our ocean environment is protected. This funding will enable us to do better."

Dr Smith made the announcement while visiting the Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve in Auckland with local MP and Tourism Minister, Hon. Murray McCully.

"We know that marine reserves work, and that in them marine life is bouncing back. But at places like Long Bay-Okura, the effectiveness of established reserves is being compromised by insufficient enforcement and inadequate boundary markers. This funding will enable these issues to be addressed here and at New Zealand's other marine reserves. It will also enable improved monitoring of the conservation gains within reserves."

The Minister particularly wants to see applications progressed for marine reserves at Parininihi in North Taranaki, Kaikoura, Akaroa, Nugget Point in Otago and Paterson Inlet in Stewart Island. He also wants investigations leading to new applications advanced on the Poverty Bay Coast, White Island in the Bay of Plenty, Waiheke Island and the Wellington South Coast.