Rules enforcing the restrictions of a one-of-a-kind marine protection area established off the shores of Tauranga will take effect this year.
From August 11, people will no longer be allowed to anchor on, or take any marine life from, the three reefs making up the Motiti Protection Area.
The start date for the new Motiti Protection Area rules was confirmed at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Strategy and Policy Committee meeting today.
Committee chairwomen Paula Thompson said the marine protection area was being introduced to safeguard the indigenous biodiversity that relies on these reefs.
"This marine protection area is the only one of its kind in Bay of Plenty and a really important and unique opportunity for us to better understand the health of the marine environment and the ecosystems it supports.
"We've already begun monitoring these reefs and the taonga species that call it home but once in place we'll be looking to establish a benchmark so in the future we can see if the protections are working," she said.
"We recommend anyone who goes boating in this area becomes familiar with the extent of the protection areas on our website."
The new rules will apply to everyone equally, including customary, recreational, and commercial fishers, divers, people spearfishing, and people planning to catch and release.
On April 24, last year, the Environment Court released its final decision which directed the regional council to implement new rules within its Regional Coastal Environment Plan to protect three reef systems near Motiti Island and complete scientific monitoring to inform future integrated marine management solutions.
The new rules will create three protection areas (called the Motiti Protection Areas) around Motiti Island where the taking of all plants and animals (including fish and shellfish) would be prohibited due to their significant marine biodiversity, landscape and cultural values.
Those three areas comprise of Ōtaiti (Astrolabe Reef); including Te Papa (Brewis Shoal), Te Porotiti, and O karapu Reef, Motuhaku Island (Schooner Rocks) and Motunau Island (Plate Island).
Ōtaiti is also the area where the ship Rena grounded in 2011, one of New Zealand biggest maritime disasters.
The protected area will be monitored by the regional council.
Due to the complexities of the case, established by the Environment Court, there has been no specific public consultation on the protected area.
The regional council states on its website: "We do understand people's frustration with how this unique decision has come about and any future process will include public consultation, run by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and submissions will be invited to provide further depth to discussions."
In March, Bay of Plenty electorate MP Todd Muller said he was disappointed by the move.
"I fundamentally disagree with the decision and the legal process. Recreational fishers in this community were not given a chance to participate in the process."
More information on the Motiti Protection Area is available on the regional council's website.