A start date has been confirmed for the new Motiti Protection Area. From 11 August you can no longer anchor on, or take any marine life from, the three offshore reef systems making up the Motiti Protection Area.
The Environment Court ruling which required the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to introduce the new Motiti Protection Area rules came about after a complex five-year legal case which spanned across multiple courts. The ruling looks to address the imbalance in marine indigenous biodiversity at the three offshore reef systems surrounding Motiti Island.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council General Manager of Regulatory Services Sarah Omundsen says regardless of how it came about, it’s a good outcome for the environment.
“The new rules will apply to everyone equally, including customary, recreational and commercial fishers, divers, those spearfishing, even if you’re catch and releasing. We recommend anyone who goes boating in this area becomes familiar with the extent of the protection areas on our website,” says Ms Omundsen.
Ms Ormundsen says she is aware the ‘no anchoring on the reefs’ part of the rule has generated some good discussion in the community and that Regional Council is not trying to keep recreational divers away.
“The Motiti Protection Area rules, which the courts have instructed us to put in place, have been established under the Resource Management Act and state plants or animals cannot be damaged. The problem with anchoring is that both the anchor and chain are heavy. Dropping this equipment onto reefs within the marine protection area could potentially damage the vulnerable reef ecosystems that the rules have been introduced to protect,” says Ms Omundsen.
“Boaties are still able to anchor in the general area just not on the reefs themselves. There are also other alternatives to anchoring on the reefs, such as moorings or designating safe anchoring areas, and we are keen to work with groups or businesses to look at pathways for making this happen,” says Ms Omundsen.
For more information on the Motiti Protection Area or to access the GPS coordinates visit www.boprc.govt.nz/mpa