27 Jan 2010

West Coast forum agrees marine reserves

12:30 pm on 27 January 2010

A group set up on the West Coast five years ago has agreed on a network of new marine reserves for the region.

The West Coast Marine Protection Forum was set up by the previous Labour Government to obtain agreement between fishing interests, environmentalists, tangata whenua and others.

After years of debate, the group has agreed on four new reserves and lesser-regulated protected areas at Punakaiki, Okarito, Kahurangi and Gorge River.

Forum chairman Bruce Hamilton says the Government will be presented with two or three options for each reserve because the group remains divided on the final boundaries.

Formal proposals for the new reserves will go to the Ministers of Fisheries and Conservation by the end of March.