The four amendments that have been made to the Marine Estate Management Regulation concern the practical operation of marine parks and aquatic reserves.
The criteria for assessing permit applications (Clause 9(h)) have been broadened to include prevention and mitigation of damage. This encourages applicants wishing to undertake activities in marine parks and aquatic reserves to focus on avoiding or mitigating damage rather than only making good any damage, and also ensures this is considered in assessing applications.
Clause 10(2) has been deleted as Clauses 8 and 9 of the Regulation ensure that the Ministers must consider the objects of zones when assessing applications for activities. In addition the Clause could have caused conflict with the Marine Estate Management (Management Rules) Regulation 1999 that allows consent for research, environmental protection, public health, traditional use or public safety purposes. For example catching, tagging and releasing fish in a sanctuary zone for research on the effectiveness of sanctuary zones would require approval under the Marine Estate (Management Rules) Regulation 1999. This is because harming, or attempting to harm an animal in a sanctuary zone is prohibited without the Ministers’ consent. However, in theory this activity may not have been permissible under clause 10(2) of the Marine Estate Management Regulation.
Existing marine park powers to remove persons, property and heavily fouled vessel hulls and to obtain information on commercial fishing and aquaculture activities (Clauses 21 to 24) now also apply in aquatic reserves. This will improve management of aquatic reserves and allow for consistency with marine park management.
Powers for removal of property (Clause 22) have been expanded to include where it is likely to cause a significant impact on species or habitats. This will allow authorised officers to take proactive steps to seek the removal of property without having to wait until damage occurs to species or habitats.
It was originally proposed for Amendment 4 to also include removing property where it is likely to interfere with a person’s use or enjoyment of the marine park or aquatic reserve. However, this has not been included in the final Regulation as stakeholders and the community were concerned that this wording was too subjective and open to misinterpretation. Instead this section in the new Regulation remains as: ‘is unreasonably interfering with a person’s use or enjoyment of the marine park’.