Marlborough students promoting marine protection

Steve Urlich, Conrad Pilditch, Hannah Dickson, Baylee McConaghey, Stacey Wilkey, Holly Wills, Demi Fern, Julee Pillans, Siobhan Hemingway, teacher Melynda, Melynda Bentley and Simon Thrush at Marlborough Girls’ College in Blenheim.  Credit: Eric Jorgensen

In mid-October, Challenge researchers met a pioneering group of students from Marlborough Girls’ College to celebrate their efforts in environmental sustainability and invite them to attend the upcoming Sustainable Seas Annual Conference.

The students and their teacher Melynda Bentley met with Prof Conrad Pilditch (University of Waikato), Prof Simon Thrush (University of Auckland) and Marlborough District Council coastal scientist Dr Steve Urlich. 

The year 12 and 13 students are raising awareness about the Marlborough Sounds environment and are supporting a community-focussed approach to marine management. They are keen to fast-track a marine guardianship approach. Marine guardians have the power to make a suite of marine management decisions, such as "no take" areas, line-only fishing areas, no sea bed disturbance and traditional Māori fishing reserves. A similar system is already in place in Kaikōura.

The students are eager to see change in the area and have already acted. In July this year, they wrote to the Prime Minister and presented to the local Marlborough District Council. The Council have written to the Government to endorse a "collaborative approach" to marine management in the Marlborough Sounds.