Marine guardian role a chance to give back

Preservation for future generations . . . New Fiordland Marine Guardian Gavin Tayles of Northern Southland was appointed to the position in November last year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Northern Southland man Gavin Tayles remembers being “blown away” when he first set foot in the Fiordland sounds about 20 years ago.

It is the reason he put his hand up to be a Fiordland Marine Guardian, a group which oversaw the area’s marine environment, he said.

“I’ve always said that it’d be nice to give something back to the area.”

Mr Tayles was appointed to the position by the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries in November last year.

His goal was to allow future generations to continue to enjoy Fiordland as he had.

“You’d see the awe and inspiration, people’s reactions and emotions when they went in there for the first time and it sort of brought back memories for me.

“This is something special. We need to try and preserve this as much as we can.”

Fiordland’s fisheries had changed a lot over the past 40 years, he said.

“You could go and dive for scallops or you could get some paua or you could catch a blue cod with relative ease and over time that’s got harder and harder.

“Possibly, at times, it’s turned into a bit of a finger-pointing episode around who’s caused the impact but the reality is there is an impact and we need to make some change to improve some of the areas.”

Mr Tayles had found the role interesting so far.

“There’s definitely more to it than I thought.”

The guardians recently made recommendations to the minister on recreational fishing regulations.

Those included bag limit reductions on some species and temporary closures to certain species.

“I bring a recreational fisher’s perspective to the group. A large portion of people that go to Fiordland are rec fishers.”

The guardians had made an effort to engage the recreational fishing community when they put together their recommendations.

“We sort of have a gauge of how some of those people within that sector will respond and what their views are.

“There’s definitely a balancing act, because you can never please everyone.”

Mr Tayles said he did not want people to be discouraged in going to Fiordland, but the effect of rising visitor numbers needed to be managed.

That covered more than just the fishing sector.

Another function of the guardians was reviewing resource consent applications.

Biosecurity was also a key role, he said.

“Understanding how risks are being managed around vessels bringing in unwanted marine pests.”

The group worked with Environment Southland, the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment.

“We are a bit of a conduit for the different agency groups to pull them together to help them to work together.”

Without the guardians’ work, people would not be able to enjoy Fiordland as they do today, he said.