27 Oct 2012

Plan for Kaikoura coast to become marine reserve

3:00 pm on 27 October 2012

The waters off the Kaikoura coast could become one of the country's largest marine reserves under a proposed management plan for the area.

The Government has just been presented with the Kaikoura Marine Strategy, which was shaped over seven years by Te Korowai, a group made up of local authorities, iwi, fishing groups and community members.

Its chairperson, Larnce Wichman, says under the strategy the coastal waters could become a world heritage area as well as a marine reserve.

"It's quite unique in the sense that the reserve extends out over the Kaikoura Canyon and a corridor comes into the coast," he says. "So it's a very large marine reserve but the actual effect on the coastal area is about 1.9 kilometres."

Mr Wichman says the strategy also acknowledges that some fish species are under pressure and the number of fish that can be taken recreationally may have to be reduced.

"It's recognised by the recreational sector that there are species that are coming under pressure," he says, "and we'd sooner manage the abundance now rather than having a collapsed fishery, especially in localised depletion - because Kaikoura really does rely on a lot of those people coming into the area and enjoying the bounties of a marine environment."

Mr Wichman says the Government will consult on the strategy.