6 Apr 2017 - Protecting the Fiordland Marine Area in New Zealand has advanced significantly after Environment Southland approved the Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Management Plan.
The plan, which became operative yesterday, aims to protect the unique and nationally significant area from marine pests which can be carried in on local and visiting vessels.
It incorporates rules for clean vessels, clean gear and residual seawater which would apply to all vessels entering within one nautical mile of the Fiordland Marine Area's landward boundary.
It also includes a Fiordland Clean Vessel Pass, which would ensure owners and operators were aware of the risks and ways they could minimise them.
Essentially, keeping the vessels clean meant marine pests were unable to attach, the pathway was removed and Fiordland was protected.
Under the plan, any owner/operator of a vessel found in the Fiordland Marine Area in contravention of the clean vessel standard rules would be committing an offence under the Biosecurity Act - the penalty for an individual was $5000, or $15,000 for a corporation.
The plan was the first of its kind in New Zealand and had been developed over several years by a group of stakeholders, including Environment Southland, Fiordland Marine Guardians, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Department of Conservation (Doc) and Ngai Tahu.
Environment Southland biosecurity manager Richard Bowman said it was ''really exciting'' to see the plan get to the final stage and he looked forward to its implementation.
''We have worked hard with local industry and interest groups to get a plan that is both practical and will achieve the results required.
''Fiordland is extremely significant, both ecologically and economically and we know that marine pests pose one of the biggest threats.''
MPI recovery and pest management manager John Sanson said it was the first regional pathways management plan to be actioned within New Zealand.
''[It] is a significant milestone.
''MPI has worked closely with the council and the Fiordland Marine Guardians over many years to protect Fiordland's unique and highly valued marine environment from the impacts of marine pests.
''The pathway plan is a welcome measure that will build on and strengthen existing efforts to keep marine pests out of the area.
''MPI will support the future operation of the plan as part of its ongoing commitment to the Fiordland marine programme.''
Vessel operators could start applying for their Clean Vessel Passes from April 12, either at www.es.govt.nz/fmpp or by contacting Environment Southland.
CONTINUE READING: https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/southland/marine-protection-plan-approved