On Sunday 14th May over 60 people descended on the Waikawa Boating Club to listen and discuss the subject of a Marine Park concept for the Marlborough Sounds.
The meeting endorsed the need for a special management area for the sea and land of the Marlborough Sounds. Some liked the term Marine Park, others wanted a marine management area or sanctuary
The audience were people with interests ranging from recreational and commercial fishing, forestry, tourism, conservation and environmental, research, recreation and residents.
They heard from a range of speakers. Dr Steve Urlich from the Marlborough District Council gave an overview of the developing Coastal Research Strategy for Marlborough.
Dr Sean Handley of NIWA provided insights from his work analysing sediment core samples from the Pelorus Sound dating back some 1,000 years. The changing nature and accumulation rate of sediment deposits will provide vital clues to help manage the impacts of sediments in our coastal environment.
The main purpose of the day was to hear about the Marine Park concept. Peter Lawless presented an overview of marine park approaches in four countries. He outlined how different areas across the world had faced similar situations of competing needs and values coupled with degrading coastal environments and the approaches to managing those challenges. Case studies from New Zealand, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, British Columbia, along with Chesapeake and Monterey Bays in the United States were summarised and presented. This identified what constituted best current management practice from each and how such practices might be adapted and implemented for management of the Marlborough Sounds.
Overall, the principles, governance structure and resourcing used on the Great Barrier Reef were strongest. However, their recognition and engagement of the indigenous peoples was not well handled, something that was better done in British Columbia.
Peter advocated using the Great Barrier Reef model for Marlborough, with improvement around how obligations to Maori needs and values were incorporated. In conclusion, he went back to what the Trustees have already said. A marine park would include:
- A network of ecologically and socially viable marine protected areas that allows for uncertainty, resilience and the dynamics of the marine environment. The network would include replicates, take into account issues of connectivity with other protected areas and with ecosystems and valued places that might benefit from such connection. Also included would be special and unique places valued for their biodiversity, beauty, cultural and social value.
- The myriad interests and contributions of the tangata whenua would need to be integral to decisions on protection and management and their values would underpin a collective culture of kaitiakitanga.
- Policy, planning and administration would be strongly integrated with related management of fisheries and natural resources.
- Collaborative practices would be the core way of doing business.
The Forum participants expressed:
- Unanimous support that developing and implementing a marine park type concept for Marlborough Sounds.
- That a specific management/governance body would be required and should be adequately resourced and empowered.
- The place is facing real environmental issues today. Need to focus and work towards enduring, long term issues and their solutions but also make a tangible difference today.
- Need to allow for and manage all needs and values.
- Relevant information to support decision making is critical.
- Need to overcome 'humps' that have halted previous work.
- Communication, including education, critical.
- If central government will not lead then leadership needed to come from the community.