The relationship between marine tourism and marine protection: A baseline study of Akaroa, New Zealand

Nature cruises and marine eco-tourism are primary attractions of Akaroa, one of Canterbury’s most popular tourism destinations, and more recently cruise ship port. Each of the last four decades have brought forth a new marine protection measure and increased marine tourism activity to the small town of Akaroa. A variety of marine protection measures are now in place in the area, including a Marine Mammal Sanctuary that came into effect in 1988; Pōhatu Marine Reserve, a ‘no-take’ reserve on the outer coast that came into effect in 1999; and an Akaroa Harbour Taiāpure – a community based fishery management model and committee that regulates fisheries through co-management with local Māori, established in 2006. In addition to these measures, a new marine reserve – the Akaroa Marine Reserve – has been formally approved by the Minister of Conservation and is due to be enacted in June 2014. The Akaroa Marine Reserve will be 475 hectares in size, and will be located on the southeast corner of the Akaroa Harbour. Included in this Reserve is the area surrounding Dan Rogers Bluff. It is important to note that although this new marine reserve was approved by government in April 2013, it was not yet in place at the time of this study. It is due to be enacted by parliament on 8 June 2014. The application for the Akaroa Marine Reserve has created significant debate within the Akaroa community, as many customary and recreational fishers who utilise this marine environment appear to view this ‘new’ reserve as either unnecessary or overly restrictive in respect of the range of activities to be permitted in this area. This study is intended, therefore, to act as a baseline study and ‘capture’ visitor and operator perspectives on the link between marine tourism and marine protection measures at a time when this issue is likely to be, at least for marine tourism operators, both prominent and salient.
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