Fiordland is a globally unique marine environment that contains both exceptional biodiversity and valuable resources. It attracts over 300,000 tourists to Milford Sound annually. While this makes it an important economic area, human activities in Fiordland bring risks, including over-fishing, invasion by pest species, oil spills, and damage to sensitive habitats from anchors and diving.
In 1995, the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment Inc. was established. They were a group of local citizens concerned about the sustainability of local fisheries and the impacts of increasing tourism on the environment. These Guardians represented the many stakeholder industries in the area, including commercial and recreational fishers, charter boat operators, Ngai Tahu and community interests. The group worked together to create a strategy for a positive future for the Fiordland marine area by limiting the pressures on the marine environment. At their first meeting in December 1995, the following vision was adopted which is still in use today: “…that the quality of Fiordland’s marine environment and fisheries, including the wider fishery experience, be maintained or improved for future generations to use and enjoy.”
The Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment Inc. was granted funding in 2000 through the Ministry for the Environment’s Sustainable Management Fund. This funding allowed the development of the Fiordland Marine Conservation Strategy which proposed a package of management measures. The Strategy received widespread support from the community, Ngai Tahu, and local government leaders, as well as from the then Ministers of Fisheries and the Environment who committed to implementing the Strategy within two years.
The Strategy provided a framework for future management of the Fiordland marine environment. Its implementation came in the form of special and unique legislation: the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Management Act 2005. The Act established the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Area an area encompassing the waters from Awarua Point on the West Coast to Sandhill Point in the south, and 12 nautical miles off the coast. Within the Fiordland Marine Area, eight new marine reserves were created (in addition to two pre-existing reserves) as well as a number of high value areas called ‘china shops’. Both marine reserves and china shops aim to protect important species and habitats, and are subject to very strict rules and regulations.
The Act also established a unique management regime led by the Fiordland Marine Guardians – a statutory advisory body established to ensure continued community input into the management of the area. The Guardians work with the Ministries for the Environment and Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation and the Southland Regional Council (collectively known as the management agencies) to provide cooperative and integrated management of the Fiordland Marine Area.
The Fiordland Marine Guardians’ website has up-to-date information on the activities of the Guardians and management agencies, and information on the unique rules governing activities in the Fiordland Marine Area. You will also find background information about the Guardians and the Fiordland environment, and publications produced by or about the Guardians.
Last updated: 26 June 2009