Sunday 8th June, World Oceans Day, was a very appropriate date for the formal opening of the Akaroa Marine Reserve. Twenty years is a long time to consult, develop, apply and campaign for a marine reserve so it was a very happy day for the Akaroa community to finally see the reserve come into existence.
The Akaroa Marine Reserve is 512ha and covers the south-eastern area of Akaroa Harbour and extends eastwards towards Damons Bay. The coastal scenery adjacent to the marine reserve is spectacular and the 275m Dan Rogers bluff dominates the landscape.
Banks Peninsula now proudly has two marine reserves. Pohatu Marine Reserve is 2.25km away and the opportunity for scientific study of the two closely situated marine reserves is unprecedented in New Zealand. As yet, there are no other marine reserves on the east coast of the South Island.
Hon Dr Nick Smith, the Minister of Conservation, and Hon Amy Adams, MP for Selwyn, officiated at the opening.
Pupils from Akaroa Area School prepared and displayed a colourful banner advocating for more marine reserves. Bridget White, a pupil from Christchurch’s Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery School, spoke passionately about the need to protect our oceans and to protest about the National-led government’s oil exploration activities off the New Zealand coastline.
Members of the Akaroa Harbour Marine Protection Society, supporters, community representatives and Department of Conservation staff were also in attendance.
In his opening speech, Dr Nick Smith resolved to review the Marine Reserves Act so that it becomes “less clumsy”. However, any new marine reserve will inevitably require a political will, not just a “revised process”.
Many tributes were paid to the hard-working core of campaigners who didn’t ever give up on their vision of meaningful protection within Akaroa Harbour.
The support from around New Zealand from marine reserve advocates and scientists is very much appreciated. This hard won reserve would have been impossible otherwise.
StFF congratulates the Akaroa Harbour Marine Protection Society. Read more here.