• Nick Smith

The Minister of Conservation Nick Smith today officially opened New Zealand's 14th marine reserve, Te Angiangi, on the east coast of central Hawke's Bay. It is the first marine reserve on the east coast between Mayor Island in the Bay of Plenty and Bluff.

"The east coast of New Zealand is a vacuum when it comes to marine reserves. Despite 1500 kilometres of coastline between Mayor Island and Bluff, this is the first and only marine reserve. The fact that we are setting aside just three kilometres of this huge coastline for conservation purposes is a small but significant step towards greater recognition of conservation values in the marine environment".

"I get a bit frustrated when some commercial and recreational fishermen and Maori claim that greenies are trying to lock up the whole coastline. The reality is that less than one percent of New Zealand's coastal area is protected. In comparison, over 30 percent of New Zealand's land area has been set aside for conservation. Protecting this comparatively small area of coast from exploitation is good policy and will be welcomed by future generations".

"The reserve will protect nearly 450 ha of rock platforms, shallow reefs and offshore sand flats between Aramoana and Blackhead beaches. Te Angiangi Marine Reserve contains a variety of habitats and marine life that are typical of the central Hawke's Bay and northern Wairarapa coast. More than 200 species of seaweed, invertebrates and fish have been recorded in the reserve. Many of these, including over 30 species of fish, can be viewed in rock pools at low tide. The low tide rock platform is also an important feeding area for a variety of coastal birds including bar-tailed godwits, variable oyster catchers, pied stilts and herons".

All forms of fishing will be illegal within the reserve, to allow the area to act as a nursery for the growth of marine species. This will also allow scientists and the public to see the impact that activities such as fishing have had on the marine environment.