If ever there was an opportunity to protect a marine environment abundant in unique species, a growing tourism interest, and with minimal impact on fishing interests, this is it.
The Subantarctic region is recognised as being of international significance. While the islands themselves enjoy considerable protection as nature reserves, little of the marine area surrounding them is protected. Yet the endemic seabird species living there rely on the sea for its smorgasboard of food. So while they may be safely protected on land, at sea they are vulnerable unless protected there too.
Further, there is a high degree of inter-dependence between species — for example, on the Bounty Islands the Toroa (Salvin’s albatross) uses moulted penguin feathers to reinforce their nests — so protection at sea is needed to protect the land.
The Marine Protected Areas process has been churning away for six years, and has now proposed two options for marine protection — one option provides partial protection, the other provides full protection.
The uniqueness of the Subantarctic region requires full protection — no question — and you have a chance to have your say by emailing your submission to email@example.com by the closing date, Friday 31 July 2009.
One thing in particular you may wish to comment on is that the ‘partial protection’ option would see a large area around Campbell Island excluded from protection because giant spider crab fishers, who they are not currently fishing there, may want to use that area at some stage in the future. This is a poor reason to leave the area unprotected.
You may never have the fortune to visit this unique region. However, if you comment on this proposal and these areas gain the full marine protection status they deserve, you’ll have helped protect one of the world’s most unique and wild places. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert to make a submission; you just have to state your reasons.