Fiordland Marine Management Bill 2004: First Reading

  • Marian Hobbs

Mr Speaker, I move that the Fiordland Marine Management Bill 2004 be now read a first time.

At the appropriate time I will move that the Bill be considered by the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee, that the committee report the Bill finally to the House by 4 April 2005, and that the committee have the authority to meet at any time while the House is sitting, except during questions for oral answer, and during any evening on a day on which there has been a sitting of the House, and on a Friday in a week in which there has been a sitting of the House, despite Standing Orders 191 and 194(1)(b) and (c).

The Bill has its genesis in Fiordland, amongst people who live, work and play there; people who care deeply about the health and wellbeing of the area’s marine environment. Rather than complaining about outside interference or outside rule-setting for Fiordland’s marine environment, these people decided to pull together all stakeholders – fishermen, iwi, scientists, tourist operators, and environmentalists – and develop some proposals to better manage and protect the area.

These people are the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment. Their proposals for the management of Fiordland are contained in the Fiordland Marine Conservation Strategy. This Bill is testament to the Guardians’ vision, tenacity, and commitment to the sustainable management and protection of Fiordland’s unique marine environment.

What is perhaps most remarkable is that they have achieved cross-sector support for their proposals, many of which this Bill gives effect to. For example, the Bill creates eight marine reserves in Fiordland totalling nearly 10,000 hectares. That the Guardians secured the support of recreational and commercial fishers, and iwi for this is a remarkable achievement.

The preamble to the Bill sets out the history of the Guardians and the development of their Marine Conservation Strategy for Fiordland. Central to this history is their vision that:

‘the quality of Fiordland’s marine environment and fisheries, including the wider fisheries experience, be maintained or improved for future generations to use and enjoy.’

This vision is reflected in the purpose clause of the Bill. In recognition of the importance of Fiordland’s unique marine environment and outstanding landscape and cultural heritage, clause 3 notes that the Bill implements a range of measures to assist in the preservation, protection and sustainable management of the Fiordland’s marine environment.

All the provisions in the Bill apply to the Fiordland Marine Area. This Area is established by clause 6 of the Bill. The map included in the Bill as Schedule 1, and described in detail in Schedule 2 indicates the boundaries of the Area generally.

As already noted, a key aspect of the Bill is the creation of eight new marine reserves. Clause 7 establishes the reserves.

Each reserve is described in a schedule that also specifies any special conditions that apply. For example, anchoring is prohibited within particularly fragile areas within marine reserves, and in parts of others, the storage of rock lobster pots is explicitly permitted. Allowing the storage of pots was crucial to gaining the support of rock lobster fishers for the creation of the reserves, and I am certain that it will not have a detrimental effect upon the areas. The general conditions that apply to all reserves are set out in Schedule 3.

The Bill places a moratorium on the creation of any further marine reserves in Fiordland for seven years, or until a review of the management of the Fiordland Marine Area is completed if that occurs earlier. Under clause 21 the review is to be initiated by the Minister for the Environment within five years of the commencement of the Act.

Clause 10 amends the Southland Regional Coastal Plan to give effect to management measures proposed in the Guardian’s Strategy relating to such things as anchoring, diving, biosecurity and the erection of structures in the Fiordland Marine Area. The government is confident that the consultation undertaken by the Guardians with the public on these changes justifies making them without following the normal Resource Management Act process for plan changes. The changes have been included in the Bill with the agreement of the Southland Regional Council. The detail of the changes is set out in Schedule 12.

Another key change to the management of the Fiordland Marine Area is the creation of the Fiordland Marine Guardians. This body will consist of between five and eight members appointed by the Minister for the Environment, one of whom is to be nominated by Ngâi Tahu. Under clause 22 central government agencies and Ministers involved in the management of the Fiordland Marine Area, and the Southland Regional Council, must have regard to any advice or recommendations of the Committee. Clause 17 provides for the Minister for the Environment to pay the members for any work they undertake.

The provisions of the Bill, along with several non-statutory initiatives this government is progressing, give effect to the main aspects of the Fiordland Marine Conservation Strategy. I would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank the Fiordland Marine Guardians for their years of hard work in developing these proposals and seeing them through to this stage. This is a very impressive achievement that will ultimately benefit Fiordland’s marine environment.

Mr Speaker, I commend the Bill to the House.