The Fiordland Marine Guardians was formally established as an advisory group under the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Management Act 2005. This legislation also created eight new marine reserves and other protected areas.

Conservation strategy

The legislation brought into effect a conservation strategy written by the Guardians and launched for consultation in 2002. This document was a significant piece of work, requiring all parties to make concessions to ensure the marine environment would be managed sustainably into the future.

In the strategy, eight marine reserves were proposed to ensure ongoing protection for areas that were representative of the diverse ecology of Fiordland. Other discrete, fragile areas were identified as having special qualities and became known as ‘china shops’. Some of these were designated no-anchoring areas.

The final Fiordland Marine Conservation Strategy was presented to the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Fisheries in 2003. The legislation was passed in 2005.

2000: Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment

From 1995 to 2000 the Guardians broadened their approach from fishing interests to the whole of Fiordland’s marine environment. This enabled the group to consider threats such as marine pests and overfishing.

Marine science and environmental representatives joined the Guardians and the Department of Conservation, Environment Southland and the Ministry for the Environment joined the agency advisory and support group. (The Ministry for Fisheries was previously included.)

In 2000, the Guardians received a grant from the Ministry for the Environment to develop an integrated strategy for Fiordland’s fisheries and marine environment.

1995: Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries

From the late 1980s, declining numbers of blue cod and rock lobster in Milford Sound/Piopiotahi and Doubtful Sound/Patea began to concern local fishers.

Access to all the fiords was also improving with the availability of larger vessels, floatplanes and helicopters. There were fears that fish stocks in the less accessible parts of Fiordland would also be depleted.

A suggestion that all the fishing interests should get together and work on ways to safeguard the fisheries was welcomed, and led to the formation of the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries in 1995. Members included representatives of Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka Inc of Ngāi Tahu iwi, commercial fishers, recreational fishers and charter boat operators.

At the first meeting, the Guardians adopted this vision:
“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.”

See Ministry for the Environment website for information about the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Management Act 2005 that established the guardians.

See our guide to Fiordland (page 7) for more information about the guardians and their history.