Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is leading a delegation to the subantarctic islands today to experience and observe first-hand the vital conservation and research work being carried out there.
“The Auckland Islands are the largest of our subantarctic islands. They have unique and valuable ecosystems which support a range of species found nowhere else in the world,” Ms Barry says.
“It’s the first opportunity the Department of Conservation has had for maintenance and inspection work there for three years. That work had to be cancelled in the previous two years because navy vessels were needed for cyclone relief work in the South Pacific.”
The four-day journey to the Auckland Islands and back is the second phase of Operation Endurance, undertaken with the help of the New Zealand Navy and HMNZS Otago.
The first phase earlier this month involved Department of Conservation staff carrying out inspections and maintenance on Campbell Island, and repairs to the Col-Lyall Boardwalk.
“I’m expecting to meet researchers working on at risk species such as the New Zealand sea lion and our unique albatrosses, and to exerience first-hand the challenges of ridding the Auckland Islands of introduced predators including feral pigs and cats,” Ms Barry says.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the work that is going on there and how DOC is managing historic sites such as the World War II coast watchers’ huts.”
The HMNZS Otago leaves Bluff this evening. On-board are the Minister, a representative from Ngāi Tahu, board members from the new Predator Free 2050 Ltd and a representative from the Nature Conservancy as well as the new Parliamentary Private Secretary for Conservation Scott Simpson.
The HMNZS Otago will also resupply some of the researchers on the Auckland Islands and bring two researchers back from Enderby Island on its return.