Dear MPA News,
An announcement in your September/October 2011 issue misreported the status of five no-take marine reserves along the west coast of the South Island, New Zealand ("New Zealand designates five no-take reserves," MPA News 13:2).
The New Zealand Government press release stated that five marine reserves "are to be established...." The Minister of Conservation and the Minister of Fisheries have approved only a proposal for the marine reserves. This is the starting point for the statutory process that all marine reserves must go through, during which they are open for public consultation. In New Zealand, this process can take anywhere from about one year to 15 years to complete before approval and implementation by the Ministers. It is not a formality: boundaries can change as a result of the consultation, and proposals have even been rejected.
The Department of Conservation press release has been updated to reflect this distinction: www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/marine-and-coastal/marine-protected-areas/other-protected-areas/proposed-west-coast-marine-protected-areas.
WWF supports the efforts by the West Coast Marine Protection Forum to identify areas for biodiversity protection because currently less than 1% of New Zealand's EEZ is protected by marine reserves.
Tyler Eddy, marine advocate, WWF New Zealand/Aotearoa, Wellington, New Zealand. E-mail: tylereddy [at] wwf.org.nz
Correction: MPA News apologizes for misreporting the status of the proposed marine reserves. We asked Christian Bonnevie, press secretary for New Zealand Environment Minister Kate Wilkinson, whether the proposed reserve boundaries are likely to change. He replied, "We expect the boundaries to remain exactly as agreed upon. The process that resulted in the approved proposal already involved considerable public consultation and compromise. We have not heard of any concerns over the boundaries selected as a result. The forthcoming public consultation process is to ensure everyone who wishes to can be heard on the final options chosen. It is our expectation that the marine reserves on the West Coast will be opened officially in late 2012."