Environment Court approves Motiti Protection Areas

Motiti Island. File photo.

The Environment Court has approved a proposal to turn the waters around Motiti into a marine reserve.

The final decision on the proposed Motiti Protection Areas was released by the Environment Court on Friday afternoon.

The decision directs Bay of Plenty Regional Council to implement new rules within its Regional Coastal Environment Plan to protect three reef systems near Motiti Island and complete scientific monitoring to inform future integrated marine management solutions.

As a consequence of the Court’s decision the taking of fish will be prohibited around three specific reef systems near Motiti Island.

The rules will apply to everyone, including customary, recreational and commercial fishers.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chief Executive Fiona McTavish says although the Motiti Protection Areas have come about through an appeal process rather than being proposed by the Council, the outcome is a good one for the marine environment.

“The Environment Court decision acknowledges the significant marine biodiversity, landscape and cultural values of these reef systems and takes the first steps to helping ensure they are protected for future generations.

"These significant values were already recognised in the Coastal Plan, although there were no rules in the Plan preventing the taking of fish in order to protect those values.”

Primarily conducted through the Environment Court and involving complex legal arguments, the five year appeal process has been demanding for regional council, tangata whenua and interested stakeholders alike.

The process was longer than usual because the question of whether regional councils can control fishing through regional plans was tested in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

“We understand these reefs are important to the local fishing community and that many will feel affected by the change.

“We are committed to providing clarity around what the outcome of this complex legal case means for our community and will be working with all stakeholders to make sure the new rules are well understood."

Council is preparing the amendments directed by the Court for final confirmation.

Once confirmed by the Court the Council will update the Regional Coastal Environment Plan to include the new provisions.

A map showing the protection areas around Motiti. Image: Forest and Bird Facebook.

These amendments will then be sent through to the Minister of Conservation for approval.

Once approved, the changes will be publicly notified and the rules will become operative and enforceable. It is therefore expected to take a number of months before the rules are implemented.

You can find out more about the Motiti Protection Areas and read a full copy of the Environment Court decision here.

The three Motiti Protection Areas within Motiti Natural Environment Management Area include: Motiti Protection Area 1 Coastal Marine Area Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef), Te Porotiti, o Karapu and Te Papa (also known as Brewis Shoals), Motiti Protection Area 2 Coastal marine area around Motunau (also known as Plate Island), Motiti Protection Area 3 Coastal marine area around Motuhaku (also known as Schooner Rocks or Schooner Island). Click through to access and download the Motiti Protection Areas map

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Posted on 01-05-2020 22:44 | By

Agree totally with you. Back you all the way. No talk of it until the grounding and now. This mythical bull shirt is costing our country hundreds of millions of dollars and needs to stop. Particular people are milking it for all they can.

Where next?

Posted on 01-05-2020 19:44 | By Lone Star

Forest & Bird & their mates won’t be happy until the whole area is a marine reserve. It’ll be Motiti Island next.


Posted on 01-05-2020 10:48 | By peecee09

What is this nonsense I read about Astrolabe reef being “ a revered spiritual ancestor”. Come on, it is a rock. Get into the 20 th century and stop this mythical hocus pocus. Let’s go fish it.

Who is responsible?

Posted on 01-05-2020 09:35 | By Lone Star

Bob Landy, ask Forest & Bird who is responsible. Them & their friends have been pushing this agenda for years. I don’t think there’s any forest on these reefs.


Posted on 30-04-2020 18:18 | By Told you

This is the worst decision I have ever read. To stop recreation fishers from this area is complete nonsense and should have no validity.An urgent appeal must be made immediately.You have got my tick.

Stop This

Posted on 30-04-2020 13:59 | By

Please contact your MP, Mayor, Councillors and the Minister of Conservation to stop this attack on recreational fishing. I have.


Posted on 30-04-2020 13:22 | By peecee09

What a joke, I’m going fishing out there .Why don’t you all join me as a way of demonstrating we will not tolerate this nonsense.


Posted on 30-04-2020 12:43 | By

I agree with you Nick220 that in-shore commercial fishing needs to go. I’ve seen,as many others have seen as well, commercial boats netting in the little bay to the right of Leisure Is. Making 2 or 3 passes emptying the place out. Absolutely appalling. A disgrace to the industry.


Posted on 30-04-2020 12:24 | By

This is nonsense. I regularly fish these waters and can not see how recreational fishing can have a negative impact. Who are these people who have forced these rules on us? This has to be stopped now. The whole thing stinks of political correctness which is sadly becoming more prominent in New Zealand.


Posted on 30-04-2020 08:19 | By Nick220

This is just absolutely disgusting that this is allowed to occur. If they actually cared about protecting sea life they would ban inshore commercial fishing.