Conflict among competing interests in the Marlborough Sounds has led to the creation of a new community group which aims to agree on how best to manage the area sustainably.
The Marlborough Marine Futures project, brings together the Department of Conservation, the local council and commercial and recreational fishers, as well as locals to decide what rules are needed to protect the the area's unique environment.
Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith launched the Marlborough Sounds Marine Futures Project yesterday.
He said the whole community needed to decide what it wanted, without pushing the local environment to the brink.
"What the area needs is a holistic approach and that requires all regulators and stakeholders to come together.
"From there regulators can then develop their rules driven by the community and other concerned parties' needs."
The project has a five year goal to present a plan on what local interested parties want and how to achieve it.
Project co-ordinator Peter Lawless described the enterprise as a way to allow locals and other stakeholders to take control of their environment by providing a solid sense of direction.
"The very first thing that we'll do is assemble a well-respected and mandated stake holder working group for the Marlborough Sounds."
He said the group will integrate regulations and processes that government, the community and iwi want.
He said the next step will be to produce a strategy for the future use and protection of Marlborough's marine environment.
Geoff Rowelling is president of Our Fishing Future and a former president of the Recreational Fishing Council.
He said the project may prove positive if it highlights the regulatory tangle the local community has to navigate.
"This project really indicates the level of frustration that's developed over the years with what appears to be the inability of the existing agencies to adequately provide for the needs of the various competing interests."
Meanwhile, project leaders have a start date of 8 March next year to get together and begin forging a partnership among the diverse commercial and community interests within the Sounds.