Backing for marine reserves

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A majority of submissions to the South East Marine Protection Forum support the creation of several reserves around Dunedin.

The forum released details of the more than 2800 public submissions this week.

They included 1385 submissions in support of creating a type-1 “no take” marine reserve around Green Island. There were 873 submissions against doing so.

A proposal to create a type-1 marine reserve from Harakeke Point to White Island received 1231 in support and 910 against.

The establishment of a type-2 reserve between White Island and Waldronville received 1383 in support and 862 in opposition.

A type-2 reserve would allow some fishing and harvesting but restrict fishing methods and other activities that disturbed the seabed.

Forum recreational fishing representative Steve Bennett, who is also the secretary of the Green Island Fishing Club, said he was surprised by the number of submissions backing the proposal for Green Island. But he noted many were pro forma.

Numbers could be deceptive because those making submissions needed to explicitly register opposition to the creation of a particular site for that to be recorded, he said.

“If they didn’t actually say ‘we’re against it’ then it wasn’t recorded.”

Community representative forum member Neville Peat said the process was not “a numbers game”.

“It’s more a game in terms of evidence for or against the proposal.”

Forum chairwoman Maree Baker Galloway said numbers were “not the end of the story” and forum members would closely consider supporting information provided with individual submissions.

Mr Bennett said he could not pre-empt decision-making on the Green Island site or others.

He would put forward the views of the recreational fishers he represented in ongoing deliberations.

The deadline for forum deliberations is now the end of September and the deadline for a final recommendation to government is under review.