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The legacy of the Bay of Plenty’s 2011 Rena disaster will be three reefs protected for nature, with the Minister for Conservation signing off the new Marine Protected Areas over the weekend.

Forest & Bird congratulates the Motiti Rohe Moana Trust and Minister Allan for their roles in this significant legacy, and for helping bring life back to the region’s seas.

“Forest & Bird has been proud to support Te Motiti Rohe Moana Trust in their successful legal battle for ocean protection, in which decades of work by Trust kaumatua came together with Forest & Bird’s legal expertise and our branch's local ocean advocacy,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.

“We’re delighted the Environment Court and the Court of Appeal firmly upheld the relationship between conservation values and mātauranga Māori in the creation of these protected areas. We look forward to working with hapū around the country to ensure their mana moana and ecological expertise is similarly expressed,” says Mr Hague.

“The three reefs signed off by Minister Allan for protection will become important zones for restoring ocean life in the Bay of Plenty. Important though these reefs are, it is sobering to note that only 1% of the Bay will be protected for nature.

“Intensive fishing activity has seen hapuka and crayfish almost disappear from the Bay and commercial quota for tarakihi and snapper cut as fish stocks diminish. Kina barrens are taking over. These are signs of a collapsing ecosystem, so the new protected areas are good news for all the community, particularly those with an interest in the health of the sea.”

One of the reefs to be protected is the Astrolabe, on which the Rena ran aground in 2011, devastating wildlife and focusing attention on the collapsing health of the Bay of Plenty’s marine ecosystems.

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