September Stewart Island News update

We’ve fielded a number of questions on the practicalities of how an eradication would work. The details of these are being worked through in the detailed feasibility study that is currently being undertaken. However we thought it would be useful to provide some information on the legal aspects of an eradication.

Regulatory Processes and Issues for Predator Free Rakiura

The Biosecurity Act can provide powers to undertake pest control on Rakiura and to prevent the introduction of unwanted predator species. At the local level these powers are accessed through a regional pest management strategy.

Currently there are a number of rules in Southland’s Regional Pest Management Strategy that support the Predator Free Rakiura concept.  For example it is illegal to introduce any mustelid (stoat, ferret, weasel) to Stewart Island. The same rule applies to feral cats, feral pigs, hedgehogs, magpies, rabbits and rats and mice. There is also a rule which requires all domestic cats in Stewart Island to be neutered and micro-chipped. This rule is yet to be enforced but its implementation would involve full consultation with the local community beforehand.

The Biosecurity Act could also be used to manage the internal border between Stewart Island and the South Island. Under the current Regional Pest Management Strategy existing powers could be used to monitor the border and to prevent the passage of designated pests.

However a better option in future may be the use of a Pathways Plan to manage the border. This method was made possible by amendments to the Biosecurity Act in 2012. A Pathways Plan could enable the setting up of policies and programmes specifically aimed at protecting the integrity of Predator Free Rakiura. This would be done by focussing on the means or ‘pathways’ by which predator species could cross Fouveaux Strait, e.g.  shipping, aircraft, freight, passengers, etc. It could in effect be used to set up a local border control system. However this can only be done through an extensive consultation process with all affected parties and with the full cooperation of those who are responsible for or operate in the defined ‘pathways’.

What Consents will be required under the Resource Management Act 1991 and Building Act 2004?

 

Depending on the nature of any work proposed, this may require resource consents from the Southland District Council and/ or Environment Southland under the Resource Management Act 1991; such as for indigenous vegetation modifications for the proposed fence and any associated works which may be required to cross watercourses with this structure, or to run the fence down to the coastline.

 

Whether such consents are required will become clearer if the proposal proceeds further to a more detailed design stage, and this design would then be assessed against the relevant provisions of the Southland District Council District Plan, and Environment Southland’s Regional Water Plan and Regional Coastal Plan to determine if resource consents are required.

 

If resource consents are required under these planning documents, then the relevant consent authority (be it SDC or ES) would also need to decide the extent of public consultation required in relation to this i.e. whether full public notification is appropriate/ necessary, in which case anyone can submit, or whether the consent authority is satisfied that the effects are localised and minor to the extent that the application can be dealt with on a non-notified basis if written approvals of affected parties are obtained.

 

The Building Act 2004 provides an exemption from the need for building consent for fences as follows:

 

Fences and hoardings

·         (1) Building work in connection with a fence or hoarding in each case not exceeding 2.5 metres in height above the supporting ground.

 

Regardless of whether the fence required a building consent from the Southland District Council or not, it would still be important to seek appropriate engineering design input to ensure the robustness of the structure long-term.

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VICKI’S PREDATOR FREE SURVEY RESULTS

From 16th April 2014 until 23rd May 2014 Rakiura resident Vicki Coats ran a preliminary survey about the proposal to make the island predator free. She received responses from 408 adults, as well as 52 children. Only the adult responses have been included in the data. The results have been checked by Councillor Bruce Ford (JP) and Senior Constable Dale Jenkins.

The document below summarises the results of the survey. The comments made as part of the responses have been recorded and are available to view here:

http://rakiura.weebly.com/responses.html

You can read the results here

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Response to Whiteboard questions from Community Meeting

Impact of poisons (if used):

  • health studies

  • impact on marine life

  • is there sufficient research into alternatives?

  • All FAQ 6a

Costs

  • Who will pay for biosecurity measures?

  • Who will pay for the upkeep/ replacement of the fence?

  • Will there be an impact on Stewart Island ratepayers?

  • What is the cost of the work so far/ in progress now and who is paying?

  • What will be the increase in infrastructure costs?

  • All FAQ 3a-c

Look at Lord Howe case study

We recognise Mary Molloy’s point that the Lord Howe Island eradication project has been poorly handled. As Mary rightly points out, the project team in that instance has not consulted with the local community very well so far. This is why we are working closely with the local community, and making as much information as possible available at each stage of the process to avoid repeating those mistakes. Once we know what the detailed proposal is, the Governance Group will look at bringing in external experts to discuss the issues with the local community. The Governance Group is in has contact with other predator eradication programmes, including Lord Howe Island, in order to share best practice and learn from each other. 

Will DOC do outcome monitoring?

Yes – the details of this will need to be developed as the project progresses

When can the community say yes or no?

FAQ 2d

Effect on deer:

FAQ 2d

Fence: 

  • What is the value of the fence versus destruction of habitat and unsightly nature?

  • Should Port William be included in the HMB area?

  • Can the locals use the wood felled from fence construction?

  • FAQ 2d

Ultimately, given current technology, a fence is needed for this project to proceed. So it will be up to all partners to weigh up whether the damage done by a fence is worth the tourism and ecological benefits that could arise.

Will a predator free area reduce birds ability to cope with predators if they reinvade, thereby compromising their long term survival?

Our native birds have not adapted to introduced predators thus far, so this is unlikely.

Does the group need an aquaculture representative?

This is being considered by the Governance Group

How can I stay in touch with what is happening? 

There are several ways that you can give feedback, ask questions and stay updated:

  • Direct contact with the members of the Governance Group;

  • Updates on the website www.predatorfreerakiura.org.nz (be sure to make use of the Q&A page:),

    1. Sign up for updates on the website, and;

    2. Regular updates in Stewart Island News

 

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Governance Group Update – April 2014

The Predator Free Rakiura Governance Group met for the third time on Stewart Island/ Rakiura on April 15th 2014. The key outcomes of the meeting were:

  • The Group will be forming a Trust  to enable fund raising for the project
  • The Governance Group held a public meeting on Stewart Island to keep the islanders up to date on progress.  In this meeting, the three completed documents were presented and discussed.  These were:
    • Technical aspect of the project (for the predator-free Halfmoon Bay project)
    • Predator fence preliminary outline document
    • Economic and social analysis paper
  • The community was also introduced to the Governance Group members and the mechanisms for engaging in the project, and for the Group to answer questions and address concerns were outlined.
  • The next stage of the process will include undertaking a full feasibility study comprising:
    • A biosecurity plan (with options for managing the risks)
    • A scoping study of the predator fence (looking at best location, design specifications, cost, etc)
    • Detailed assessment of the options for eradication
    • Assessment of options for maintaining deer populations throughout the project
  •  This work will take several months to complete. In the mean time, questions are welcome from the Stewart Island community, and anyone else interested in the project, through the following avenues:
    • Direct contact with the members of the Governance Group;
    • Updates on the website www.predatorfreerakiura.org.nz (be sure to make use of the Q&A page:), and;
    • Regular updates in Stewart Island News
  • Click here to watch the video of the meeting
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The papers agreed at the Predator Free Rakiura Governance Group on 11 March are available for consultation.

Rakiura Track, Stewart Island
Here are the key messages about the papers from that meeting:  

The Predator Free Rakiura project has been split into two phases:

  1. The Halfmoon Bay area
  2. The rest of the island and surrounding islands/islets
Phase One can only proceed with a predator fence, as it is the only way to greatly reduce predator invasion. The exact location for the fence is to be determined.
No eradication method has been chosen at this stage for either phase.
The economic and social benefits for Stewart Island/Rakiura are:
  • 88 permanent jobs
  • $10m per year into the local economy
  • Population increase of 116 people including 9 more children in the school
The investment in a Predator Free Rakiura stacks up for New Zealand, provided we include non-financial benefits such as saving native species.
The 12 people on the Governance Group are all available to discuss any of this further.

Predator Free Halfmoon Bay Project – Predator Fence Preliminary Outline

Economic Appraisal of Predator Free Stewart Island

 

 

Predator Free Halfmoon Bay Project – Technical Aspects Preliminary Outline by garethmorgannz

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Predator Free Rakiura – Jan 2014 update

Featured imageThe Governance Group for the Predator Free Rakiura project has been established, the members are set out as below:

Sandy King and Jill Skerrett – representing the Stewart Island community

Gail Thompson – representing iwi interests

Stewart Bull – representing iwi (Titi Islands) interests

Leon Fife – representing Rakiura Maori Land Trust

Ali Timms – representing Environment Southland

Bruce Halligan – representing Southland District Council

Paul Norris – representing business interests

Steve Long – representing hunting interests (Southland NZDA)

Garry Neave – representing fishing interests

Gareth Morgan – representing funders

Allan Munn – representing DOC

The first meeting of this group was on Thursday 23 January at the Southland Institute of Technology in Invercargill.

Here are the key messages coming out of the meeting:

  • The Predator Free Rakiura project is about removing possums, cats and rats from Stewart Island
  • The meeting was mainly focussed on getting set up, how the Group will function, when they will meet, etc
  • They had a look at the draft economic appraisal.  This still has some work and review due, but will be complete and ready for distribution by March.   From a preliminary look, the idea of removing rats, cats and possums from Stewart Island looks good for the economy and job numbers both on Stewart Island and in Southland.
  • Next meeting will be in March.  At this meeting the economic report will be finalised and available.  Also, they will look at approaches and options about how to proceed –  no decisions have yet been made on how to remove any of these predators.
  • It will be after this March meeting that they will be starting to discuss this and get input from everyone who has an interest in this project.
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Predator Free Stewart Island – Update

In May we had a second public meeting at the Stewart Island Community Hall at Oban. It was a good vibe. What are we up to?

In 2008 in response to constant enquiry, DOC carried out a preliminary assessment of making Stewart Island/Rakiura predator-free. There are three predators there – possums, feral cats and rats. The 170,000 ha island is home to Rakiura National Park, contains large tracts of primary forest, and is the site of the township of Oban, with resident population of 420. Making Stewart Island/Rakiura predator-free will be a world first in terms of the size of the project and the fact it includes a permanent community. A project of such a scale is likely to achieve UNESCO World Heritage accreditation.

In 2012 the Morgan Foundation and Department of Conservation agreed to re-invigorate the evaluation process by updating the scoping work and engaging the local community to confirm support for the concept. That second report is now available, its findings include:

  • The project is best considered as two projects, one of the area extending from Halfmoon Bay to the Rakiura Track (about 5,000 ha) and then the rest of the island. The two projects would be separated by a 12km predator proof fence possibly running from Maori Bay to North Arm.
  •  It is considered that carrying out the Halfmoon Bay eradication first is preferable for a number of reasons:
  1.  The technology for the large scale eradication needs further development. The largest island eradication to date is Campbell Island at 11,000 ha, the big Stewart Island/Rakiura project is an altogether different order of magnitude and a quick one-off eradication isn’t deemed feasible. Rather, alternatives such as a zone-by-zone approach are being considered, but the technology for low maintenance trap-line defences to protect a zone from re-invasion have yet to be developed.
  2. While the ecological benefit is greatest from the large project the economic and social benefits for the island can in significant part be achieved from completion of the Halfmoon Bay project. The eradication techniques applicable to this project are all known and tested.
  3. Completion of the Halfmoon Bay project will enable the practice of ongoing border biosecurity to be developed and perfected without threatening the gains from the eradication of the larger project.

 

The benefits from the Stewart Island/Rakiura Treasure project are considered to include:

  • Significant economic gains from tourist visitation, particularly from special interest groups focussed around biodiversity assets – the benefit of being a global visit destination for such communities of interest as ornithologists, ecologists, biologists as well as trampers is significant given that combined global tourism numbers from these special interest communities exceed 3 million per annum.
  • Social benefits for the community of Oban as its population starts to grow, along with its school roll and the viability of services such as health and electricity.
  • An enhancement of New Zealand’s reputation for pristine environments and with that economic benefits in the form of tourism, immigration of talent and price premiums for products made in New Zealand.
  • A substantial ecological dividend from enhancing the natural capital of Stewart Island /Rakiura is promised – with so much primary forest and native species the island is a treasure of indigenous species. Unique forest, shrubland, alpine, grassland, coastal and wetland ecosystems cover the islands of the Stewart Island/Rakiura region. Threatened species within the islands include the Stewart Island fernbird, yellow-crowned parakeet, kereru, kaka, Stewart Island weka and Stewart Island robin. Yellow-eyed penguin, red-crowned parakeet, Southern New Zealand dotterel, South Island saddleback  and Stewart Island brown kiwi are also in residence. Invertebrate species unique to the island also exist. Post eradication there would also be opportunities to reintroduce threatened species to the island, such as kakapo.
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