Legislation and Policy

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We have prepared for you an achive for download of (24) Policy, Legislation and supporting documents. 

Marine reserves in New Zealand are created and managed under the Marine Reserves Act 1971.

The Marine Reserves bill (introduced in 2002) was intended to replace the current Marine Reserves Act.  The current government advised of its intention to withdraw the bill and introduce a new bill in the second half of 2013. As of August 2017, a new bill has not yet been introduced.

In addition to the creation of marine reserves, there is a wide range of legislative tools available to manage the marine environment in New Zealand. The following table provides a useful summary, followed by a Policy summary.

Legislative Tools 

Management tool Instrument Restrictions Application
Marine reserves Marine Reserves Act 1971 All extractive activities are prohibited Territorial sea
Marine mammal sanctuaries Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 A range of restrictions necessary to protect marine mammals depending on the marine mammal sanctuary Territorial sea
Marine parks Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000 and 2001 amendment, Fisheries Act 1996, Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area Act 1991 A range of restrictions depending on the marine park Territorial sea
Submarine cables and pipeline protection zones Submarine Cables and Pipeline Protection Order 1992 No fishing or anchoring, with limited exceptions for research Territorial sea and exclusive economic zone
Mataitai reserves Fisheries Act 1996, Declaration of Mataitai Reserve and appointment of Tangata Kaitiaki/taiki Notice In general, commercial fishing is prohibited and recreational/customary fishing is regulated by the tangata kaitiaki/tiaki Territorial sea
Taiapure Fisheries Act 1996, Fisheries Order Special management region for area which have special customary significance to iwi or hapu as a source of food Territorial sea
Section 196 temporary closures Fisheries Act 1996, Fisheries (Temporary Closure) Notice A range of restrictions depending on the particular area which will prohibit the removal of one or more species during a particular time period Territorial sea
Benthic protection areas Fisheries Act 1996, Fisheries Act (Benthic Protection Areas Regulations 2007) Prohibition on the use of dredge and restrictions on the use of trawl nets within 100 metres of the seabed Territorial sea and exclusive economic zone
Seamount closures Fisheries Act 1996, Fisheries Regulations Prohibits seabed trawling Exclusive economic zone
Protected customary rights and customary marine titles Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 Replaces the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 creates statutory customary rights and title Marine and coastal area
Marine consents for restricted activities Exclusive Economic Zone Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2013 Creates a hierarchy of restricted activities in the EEZ and continental shelf, similar to the Resource Management Act 1991 Exclusive economic zone and continental shelf
Policy statements and resource consents Resource Management Act 1991 NZ Coastal Policy Statement, Regional Policy Statements, Coastal Plans and District Plans, restricted activities requiring resource consent Territorial sea
Wildlife refuges, sanctuaries and management reserves Wildlife Act 1953 Wildlife refuges, sanctuaries and management reserves targeted at specific species and habitats Territorial sea and exclusive economic zone
National parks and conservation areas Reserves Act 1977 High level of protection in intertidal areas of national parks and other conservation areas Intertidal area

 

POLICY FRAMEWORK

The Marine Reserves Act is the starting point for the creation of a marine reserve in New Zealand. However, a number of policies and protocols are also of direct relevance. While not strictly binding on applicants or the government, these have a strong influence on the creation of marine reserves in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2000 gives effect to our obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Strategy sets out an action plan, requiring the government to develop integrated marine management tools.

Objective 3.6 of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy:

Protect a full range of natural marine habitats and ecosystems to effectively conserve marine biodiversity, using a range of appropriate mechanisms, including legal protection.

The Marine Protected Areas Policy and Implementation Plan, together with the Marine Protected Areas Protection Standard & Implementation Guidelines ("MPA Policy" and "MPA Guidelines") set out the government's approach to the creation of marine protected areas in New Zealand. Marine reserves are recognised as a core tool in the development of a representative network of marine protected areas.

The MPA Policy covers the process by which the government will establish future marine reserves. However, the Policy recognises that community groups can still independently make applications for marine reserves. Where possible, the applications will be brought into the government's planning process.

The Marine Reserves bill (unlikely to ever be enacted in its current form) provides that the agreement of the Director-General of Conservation be required for the development of independent marine reserves applications. It is likely this provision will be carried forward into any new Marine Reserves bill.

STATUTORY AND POLICY REQUIREMENTS FOR AN APPLICATION FOR A MARINE RESERVE

The following section briefly summarises the key requirements under the Marine Reserves Act 1971. While many parts of the Act are now out-dated and inconsistent with government policy, it remains the statutory framework to which any applicant (including the government) must comply.

The MPA Policy and Guidelines, as well as the Marine Reserves bill (even though it is unlikely it will ever be enacted in its present form), provide helpful assistance for potential applicants. An application is likely to have a much higher chance of success if it is consistent with the MPA Policy and Guidelines and the Marine Reserves bill.

Purpose of marine reserves

Section 3 of the Act sets out the overarching purpose of marine reserves, which should serve as the starting point for the consideration of any application to create a marine reserve.

"... for the scientific study of marine life, areas of New Zealand that contain underwater scenery, natural features, or marine life, of such distinctive quality, or so typical, or beautiful, or unique, that their continued preservation is in the national interest.

(a) they shall be preserved as far as possible in their natural state:
(b) the marine life of the reserves shall as far as possible be protected and preserved:
(c)the value of the marine reserves as the natural habitat of marine life shall as far as possible be maintained:
(d) subject to the provisions of this Act and to the imposition of such conditions and restrictions as may be necessary for the preservation of the marine life or for the welfare in general of the reserves, the public shall have freedom of access and entry to the reserves, so that they may enjoy in full measure the opportunity to study, observe, and record marine life in its natural habitat."

The purpose of the Act is limited and does not reflect the broad objectives set out in the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, the MPA Policy or the MPA Guidelines.

The MPA Policy clearly sets out the purpose of the government's policy.

To address the objectives and actions of the [New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy], the objective of the MPA Policy is to:

Protect marine biodiversity by establishing a network of MPAs that is comprehensive and representative of New Zealand's marine habitats and ecosystems.

The MPA network will protect representative examples of the full range of marine habitats and ecosystems, and also outstanding, rare, distinctive or internationally or nationally important marine habitats and ecosystems.

Marine reserves will be used under the MPA Policy to contribute to the network via:

b) Selection to meet the Government decision that marine reserves will be used to protect:

(i) representative examples of the full range of marine communities and ecosystems that are common or widespread;

(ii) outstanding, rare, distinctive, or internationally or nationally important marine communities or ecosystems; and

(iii) natural features that are part of the biological and physical processes of the marine communities and ecosystems referred to in (i) and (ii), in particular those natural features that are outstanding, rare, unique, beautiful, or important.

What should be included in a marine reserve?

Section 3 of the Act provides guidance as to what kind of areas may be included in a marine reserve:

"... for the scientific study of marine life, areas of New Zealand that contain underwater scenery, natural features, or marine life, of such distinctive quality, or so typical, or beautiful, or unique, that their continued preservation is in the national interest.

While section 3 remains the statutory (and therefore binding) benchmark, the emphasis in the Marine Reserves bill and in the MPA Policy and Guidelines is on establishing a representative network of marine reserves. The MPA Policy provides clear "network design" and "planning" principles, to guide the development of the MPA network.

See our Information section on Marine Reserve Design and Marine Reserve Design Document Archive

Applications for marine reserves should focus on demonstrating that the proposed area will advance the establishment of this network, through consistency with these principles.

Under the Act, marine reserves may only be created within the territorial waters of New Zealand. The Marine Reserves bill extends the potential area to the outer limit of the exclusive economic zone (which would bring us in line with our rights and obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

 

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