Lessons from Leigh
and how marine reserves can fail
By Dr J Floor Anthoni (2003)
The goat Island marine reserve in Leigh, has been New Zealand's first. Created in a climate of opposition, it has become a very popular place while silently propagating the marine conservation message as it draws over 100,000 visitors per year. Schools arrive from far afield to give their students a taste of their marine heritage. But it also has shown its failings. This chapter explores all these issues in order to be able to create better marine reserves, and to manage them better too. 


Created as a place for scientific study, the reserve has inspired its many visitors. Being able to swim amongst thousands of friendly fishes, has first created awareness, then awe, followed by support for saving the sea. (on this page)
When the marine reserve was opened, education was never mentioned as a potential benefit. However, over time, as the environment around Auckland degraded further, schools chose to travel for two hours to find a place with marine life and clear water.
Feeding the fishes became the most popular activity inside the marine reserve, and reached problematic proportions. But stopping it altogether, created other problems.
Choosing the right size and shape of any marine reserve is critical to its later success. There are important lessons to be learnt.
To cater for the increased amount of traffic to the beach, the Goat Island Road was upgraded, causing masses of mud to enter the marine reserve - yet nobody took action. Why?
The land forms an integral part with the sea, particularly where run-off is dominant. The steep agricultural land around the reserve has suddenly begun eroding, with devastating effects.
When a marine reserve is successful, the fish stocks inside build up to the extent that they become hard to resist for poachers. It just pays to fish inside. Read the story of the sunken car wrecks.
Local and visiting users are the best agents for policing the marine reserve but it can be annoying.
Amenities like parking, rubbish containers and toilets become more urgent as the reserve attracts more people. Marking the sea with buoys, moorings and markers is necessary.
The marine reserve protects scientific experiments, allowing scientists undisturbed study of the sea but recently, research became more and more politically focused. Monitoring is important for any marine reserve but it should focus on all species and whether the reserve's objectives are being met.
When doing scientific experiments, it is often necessary to erect experimental structures on the shore or underwater, like cages, tiles, cables and so on. These structures have been left to rot, while leaving harmful obstacles for the visiting public.
It could be argued that a marine reserve could run itself, but wherever people congregate, some form of management is needed. The centrally led management of the Goat Island reserve has shown that it leaves much to be desired.
Concessions are not used yet but should they be introduced?
A glass bottom boat has become a popular way to experience the marine reserve, particularly for those unable to go into the water. Many consider it an excellent idea, but it interferes with the pleasures of others. What should one do?
The Marine Laboratory of the University of Auckland is not contented teaching university level science, and now plans to open an outreach centre for the public. Madness? "The planned Edith Winstone Blackwell Interpretive Centre will provide a facility for these visitors and also outreach programmes for primary and secondary school students, including local and Maori educational programmes."
related pages
on this web site
  • To feed or not? Is feeding the fish inside a marine reserve a bad thing? An In-depth article (7p)
  • Monitoring results from Goat Island: it doesn't look good but why is this information so hard to get? Why so little? (10p)
  • The snapper-urchin-kelp myth: kelp invaded the urchin habitat, but did predators cause it? Science gone wrong. (6p)
  • Questionable marine research from Leigh: the urchin barrens myth dissected and rebutted. Just bad science. Shocking. (43p)
  • Myths about marine reseves: a long litany of propaganda, misconceptions, fallacies and plain lies about marine reserves. (big)
  • Monitoring results of other marine reserves: the public is woefully misled by the Department of Conservation. A must-read. (23p)
  • Note! for best printed results, set your page up with a left margin of 1.0cm (0.4") and right margin of 0.5cm (0.2"). Read tips.
    -- home -- conservation index -- top -- Rev:20030923,20090528,


    f992324: aerial view of the Goat island marine reserveSuccesses

    The Goat Island marine reserve in Leigh had a long gestation period, because it was the first of its kind in New Zealand. Marine reserves have always been an option in the Fisheries Act, but as conservationists became wary of fisheries management, a new act was crafted, the Marine Reserves Act 1971 (MRA71). When the Department of Conservation (DoC) was formed after the neoliberal 'Rogernomics' governments took hold in 1984, it was given the responsibility to administer the MRA.
    The original idea was to provide undisturbed conditions so that scientists and research students could make observations without any interference. But the ideas proved useful and popular in many other ways. After a long fight with numerous objectors, the marine reserve was eventually gazetted in 1975, but it took until 1977 that it was formally opened, and signs put up. From that moment, the reserve effectively took shape.

    The Goat Island marine reserve was effectively New Zealand's first, and nobody could predict how it would develop further and how many more reserves would be needed. Remember that the Marine Reserves Act 1971 (MRA71) specifies clearly that the sole purpose of marine reserves is that of scientific research. By 1996, this Act was revised considerably, to include more reasons for having them, reflecting the change in thinking (MRA96). Internationally, marine reserves were increasingly seen as a tool for saving the marine environment in the face of failing fisheries management. The word insurance was often touted. Scientists from New Zealand and elsewhere travelled around the world to broadcast the success of the Goat Island marine reserve, using it as a success story, and this is how people overseas know it, as the failures of the reserve were kept secret.

    Indeed, the public rated the reserve successful. After about ten years of a luke-warm reception, visitor numbers suddenly started to increase since about 1988, as people learned to enjoy the sea without a need of catching fish. It changed their attitudes, finding out that fish can be enjoyed more intensively in a non-extractive, and completely sustainable way. But it happened by feeding the fish, which became tame and numerous because of this. The clusters of fish taking food from visitors attracted other fish which were attracted by safety in numbers. The number of visitors at one stage rose above 140,000 per year. People arrived in bus loads to feed the blue maomao and snapper in a channel off Hormosira Flats.

    Originally attracted by the thrill of feeding the fishes, people could not avoid reading the information displays about marine life and marine conservation. It taught people more about the underwater environment. Schools began to include marine reserves in their curricula using the very biased information provided by the Department of Conservation..

    f013008: a busy day at the beach
    f013008: View of the almost non-existent Goat Island beach at low tide. People also used the grassed areas. Many people are standing in knee-deep water to feed the friendly fishes.
    f007701: big snapper and blue maomao
    f007701: During calm days with clear water, the sea becomes an underwater paradise with tame fish at close distance. Here is Mr Perfect, a large snapper which  stayed resident for many years.

    To the casual visitor at least, the marine reserve looked successful as evidenced by the many fish close to the beach. Scientists also measured an increase in fish numbers, which they took as proof that marine reserves are working. However, in this chapter, some of the more unsuccessful (and often invisible) aspects of the marine reserve will be shown by someone who has lived here since the beginning of this marine reserve, while making frequent dives with movie and still cameras, and training students in its waters.

    f015819: people treading on rock pools
    f015819: the shallow, warm rock pools are popular by children and adults alike, but their being trodden on causes damage to the shore environment. However, the deeper and cooler part of the rock pool, in the foreground, has been left undisturbed.
    f015820: a young boy feeds triplefins and shrimps in a rock pool
    f015820: The rock pools attract children to the never ending adventure of discovering what lives there. Here a boy is attracting shrimps and triplefins with food.
    f015200: fish watching, a new experience
    f015200: particularly for people who are new to New Zealand, fish watching and feeding became a totally new experience.

    • Marine reserves with good access and clear water, located close to population centres are the most successful.
    • Marine reserves in murky water will not attract visitors for fish watching and diving.
    • Marine research can co-exist with the presence of visitors who refrain from taking.
    • It takes some time before people warm up to the idea that fish watching is enjoyable.
    • Even when people do not take from the reserve, their presence can cause changes, such as treading on sensitive areas, turning of stones and changing fish behaviour (even when not feeding them).



    The popularity of Goat Island extended to schools who came from far afield to find marine life and clear water. In 1992 the Seafriends Marine Conservation and Education Centre opened its doors as the first place in New Zealand to educate the public about the marine environment and conservation. Over 3000 students each year come here to study the rocky shore, experience a snorkeldive with full protective gear, and hear lectures about the sea. The Seafriends seawater aquariums show them the marine life from nearby. Without the vicinity of a marine reserve, such activities would have been hard to imagine.

    The school visits also made visible the damage done by people to the sensitive reefs in the intertidal zone. Towards the end of each season, there is just less to see. People also removed shells and other sea artifacts from above the high tide, which is perfectly legal. However, the rules had to be sharpened such that no natural object should be removed from the beach. We also pioneered the initiative to visit the rocky reefs on bare foot only. This has shown to be much less damaging to shore life like limpets.

    Seafriends has also sharpened safety issues while taking groups in the water. Unfortunately many schools still arrive with inadequate gear and safety procedures. It must be noted here that schools think that safety is promoted by having more parents in the water, but this is not true. Safety is entirely dependent on the right equipment (full wetsuits) and an intimate knowledge of local conditions. More parents in the water just causes new problems, as most are inadequate swimmers, and inexperienced in this pursuit and the local conditions.

    Seafriends has learnt over time, that it is more important to convey a sense of amazement and enthusiasm for matters of the sea, rather than scholarly facts. We work with enthusiastic professionals who have a heart for their work. Education outside the classroom (EOTC) requires students to listen to others than school teachers.

    Whereas people do cause physical damage to the rocky shore by treading, they cannot do much damage once they are swimming in the water. This is because the water carries their weight entirely. Because water is about 800 times denser than air, storm waves cause far more damage than people can ever do. Large numbers of people in the water can thus be supported sustainably.

    f960810: students listen attentively during their rocky shore study
    f960810: on the rocky shore, students watch and listen as an instructor shows them the treasures and miracles of intertidal life. This group still has their shoes on.
    f951921: bare feet save shore life
    f951921: by asking students to take their shoes off, the marine life on the rocks, has a longer lease on life. Particularly limpets are sensitive. However, some teachers object because it increases the risk of cuts and scratches.

    f214320: full of expectation, children walk towards the beach
    f214320: full of expectation, children descend to the beach, while dressed in fully protective wetsuits and snorkelgear designed for the purpose.
    f214323: extensive instruction is part of the experience
    f214323: before going into the water, students and parents are instructed how to use the gear and how to behave in the water. 

    • One of the most important reasons of having marine reserves is education.
    • An educational marine reserve must have good access and clear water, and an accessible rocky shore with rock pools. It must also be located near a dense population centre.
    • Going bare-foot saves marine life but somewhat increases the risk of cuts and bruises. Children obtain more value because they can access the rock pools, while their feet also perceive valuable information.
    • To minimise damage, behavioural rules must be taught: to turn stones in such a way as to minimise damage; to return these carefully to their original position; to avoid stepping on camouflaged sea life (camouflage crabs, sea hares, etc). This must begin at schools because during the visit there is so much else to learn.
    • Artifacts from the sea must be protected as much as marine life, including pieces of polished glass.
    • Safe swimming and shore instruction is best left to local operators.
    • Education outside the classroom is best done by those who know what they are talking about, and who can convey a sense of amazement and enthusiasm.
    • A marine reserve must be seen to make a difference. It makes no sense to guide children in a sea devoid of fish or on a rocky shore with nothing to discover. 


    Problems with fish feeding

    Feeding the friendly fishes became the most popular pastime of a visit to Goat Island. Visitors asked "Where can I feed the fishes?" rather than "Where is the marine reserve?". People had fun creating feeding frenzies, placing food inside their dive masks, or holding food between their lips. Of course accidents were reported, such as torn lips, ears and fingers. Also during the height of the season, the water close to the beach became murkier, supposedly because of decaying food. Read the article To feed or not? for more details.

    But worse came after a junior official with the Department of Conservation prohibited the fish feeding altogether, without consulting the local community. Feeding was declared unnatural, unhealthy and an offence punishable under the MRA. First people ignored the ruling, while others removed the signs. When people were stopped entering the water with food, they resorted to breaking the sea urchins, which the fish loved even more than human food. People did so, even while knowing that heavy penalties were due for such offences.

    It did not take long for the fish to realise that staying near the beach made no economic sense, and they disappeared in droves, and with them those fish that came for safety in numbers. Soon people noticed the disappearance of fish, and they stayed away too. Local businesses noticed the loss of income. For instance, Seafriends lost over $30,000 in each of the years following the feeding ban. It seriously hampered our efforts in saving the sea. For their first visit to a marine reserve, children were no longer seeing fish nearby and in large numbers. On many snorkel trips out, some saw no fish at all during a 50 minute swim !!

    The people who manage this reserve, seldom or never are in the water, and they have but a rudimentary understanding of marine matters. They were unaware that since 1990, the ingress of mud into the reserve, had become the largest threat. Mud flows from the denuded and degrading land surrounding the reserve, and from the Pakiri River further west. It has suffocated and killed underwater life, and driven entire species out of the marine reserve, while also changing habitat structure. In June-Sept 1998 this problem became so pressing that nearly all crayfish walked out of the reserve. The friendly fishes thus experience a stress to move away from the beach, whereas the feeding attracted them in. Those species that cannot move easily, either died or stayed away. Now that the balance had shifted, the fish stayed away.

    What was infuriating about DoC's decision, was that the problem was not in the feeding itself, but in the quantity fed during a limited period of the year. This problem could easily have been turned into a learning opportunity, by explaining it to the public, giving various alternative solutions, and letting them do what suits them best, while taking responsibility for their actions. Now that far fewer people are visiting the reserve, also an opportunity for education has evaporated.
    The following rules could have been applied: Only close to the beach. Only a handful per person. Never on SCUBA. Never sea urchins. Don't buy food. Give some of your own lunch pack. Children only.

    Another missed opportunity was that of losing support for marine reserves. Not DoC, nor University, nor Government in the end were as effective in broadcasting the conservation message, as were the blue and pink fish that people came to feed.

    f015827: the fish came around people in knee-deep water
    f015827: a girl stands in knee-deep water as the blue fishes gather towards the food in her outstretched hand. People came to believe and hope that children of many generations on, would be able to experience this.
    f010206: fish surrounding a snorkeldiver
    f010206: A snorkeldiver feeds out small amounts of food to attract fish. As can be seen, the fish respond eagerly. In the picture blue maomao, snapper, blue cod and parore.

    f022018: blue maomao looking up to the hand that feeds them
    f022018: people have appeared on the fishes' horizon, hopefully with food. Here a school of blue maomao is seen jostling for a better position near the bag with food.
    f015204: people brought buckets full of food.
    f015204: in trying to be very friendly towards the fishes, people brought more and more food, which eventually became a problem. See the blue maomao in the water and the (saturated) ducks in the top right?

    f028216: fish are more interested in urchins than divers
    f028216: a snorkeldiver plays with a sea urchin to attract the snapper from far around. Fish have learnt that urchins mean food and that divers are keen to please.
    f030227: a diver follows an urchin trail
    f030227: a diver follows an urchin trail, picking up parts of urchins that have been fed to these snapper, kelpfish and spotties. The fish are still interested, having little else to do all day.

    f022025: young snapper mill around, waiting for food to arive from above
    f022025: young snapper mill around, waiting for food to arrive from above. Seeing such aggregations of fish was an exciting experience, now long lost.
    f030237: large snapper command the upper strata
    f030237: large snapper command the upper strata, closer to the source of food. Note how the water has become murky from wastes and decomposing food.

    • Feeding can become a problem, but before attempting to control it, the whole situation must be assessed.
    • The local community and those using the reserve most, must be consulted first.
    • Management actions like prohibitions can have a profound economic backlash on the local community.
    • The problem was not the feeding itself, but the quantity fed during a short period of the year.
    • There was no urgency to stop the feeding. A more gradual approach would have been better.
    • In every problem hides an opportunity for education and learning self-control and responsibility. This was missed out on.
    • When people are there, they can be educated. When they no longer come, they can't.
    • Conservation does not work best with 100% compliance at 100% of the costs, but better with 80/20%.
    • Feeding rules: Only close to the beach. Only a handful per person. Never on SCUBA. Never sea urchins. Don't buy food. Give some of your own lunch pack. Children only.
    • Invite the public to help mitigate a problem, rather than placing a ban.


    Size, shape and location

    The Goat Island marine reserve was the first of its kind and it is understandable that its boundaries could be improved upon. At the time the rocky shore habitat was seen as its most important part, containing most of its species diversity and inviting most of the scientific experiments. It was thought that a ribbon of 800m width would be all that was necessary to protect this habitat.
    The main reason for selecting this area was Goat Island and the shelter it provided. The coast here was always known for its clear waters, due to the very narrow rain catchment area bordering it while facing the open Pacific Ocean. It was a very special place with an unusual amount of sea life. So it was the most logical place to have a marine laboratory and reserve.

    But for the same reasons, it cannot serve as a baseline to compare 'outside' coasts with. However, scientists seldom make such distinction in their publications about the benefits of marine reserves.

    The marine reserve is 5km long and 800m wide, but because it curves around Goat Island, its area is effectively 5.2km2, which is too small to be sustainable. A sustainable reserve is thought to be able to exist by itself without the need of the area around, while also not being drained by it. It needs to be sufficiently large to do so. However, even then it is still dependent on the amount and quality of the plankton imported from other areas. It is now thought that 'sustainable' marine reserves should be as large as 100km2 rather than 5km2. A reserve is sustainable only if it does not degrade. However, Goat Island has shown to be degrading fast.

    It was insufficiently recognised at the time, that the seemingly monotonous sandy bottom was important for reef fishes and rocklobsters. On a regular basis, these animals migrate to their 'feeding grounds' of dog cockles, horse mussels, dosinia and scallops far outside the reserve's boundary. At the time this reserve was created, it was not realised that opposition came from those who fished the shore rather than those who fished the seabed. Extending the reserve another 5km out to sea, would have met little additional opposition but would have added considerable conservation value.

    Another major mistake was the choice of the coastal boundaries, which now run across continuous rocky habitat. It was not predicted that the reserve's boundaries would invite an unusual amount of fishing. Thus the boundaries are depleted by fishing but replenished by reef fish moving out of the reserve into vacated territories. Had the boundaries been located outside a change in habitat, such as over the nearby sandy beach, such leakage would have been minimal and correspondingly the harmful effect of 'fishing the line'.

    One of the most serious deficiencies of small reserves is that they leave no room for buffer zones which buffer the effects of fishing and mistakes made by not knowing precisely where boundaries run. It must also be recognised that seamen do not measure distance in kilometres or land miles but in nautical miles. Reserve boundaries should thus be defined in nautical miles.

    Perhaps trivial, the name of a marine reserve must be simple and easy to remember. Cape Rodney to Okakari Point marine reserve is wrong because nobody uses it. Leigh marine reserve or better still, Goat Island marine reserve are much better names. Many of the (Maori) names for marine reserves in NZ are just too long and cumbersome.

    Marine reserves are usually created in marine hot spots where the water is clear and fish congregate. But these qualities make them unsuitable for baseline studies, for example to compare more normal areas with, when studying the (beneficial) effects of marine reserves. Such hot spot marine reserves exaggerate the perceived benefits. However, scientists do not sufficiently acknowledge this.

    f981031: fishing the line
    f981031: dedicated fishermen have walked a long way to fish the boundary of the marine reserve. Although strictly legal, such fishing draws fish from the reserve. A wide buffer zone would have helped to reduce this kind of depletion.
    Map of marine reserve showing its ribbon shape
    marres04: On this map the ribbon shape of the Goat island marine reserve can clearly be seen. When one knows that currents pass along the outside of Goat Island where the bigger fish congregate, it is not difficult to see that places outside its boundary can be found where bait will attract fish from deep inside the reserve. A ribbon shaped marine reserve has too much boundary for its area, whereas a circle or square would be much better.
    The area around the outside of Goat Island is a marine hot spot in the clearest and deepest water, near currents and feeding grounds, while offering shelter against waves. Yet scientists do not acknowledge this.

    • Marine reserves should be much larger than 5km2.
    • Large areas of flat sea bottom should be included as 'feeding grounds'
    • Outside boundaries should be defined in nautical miles.
    • A ribbon shape is the worst shape possible. Large squares are better.
    • Sufficiently wide buffer zones must be included.
    • Coastal boundaries must be chosen to lie outside the contiguous habitat.
    • Boundaries and corners should be marked with buoys.
    • Choose a simple name.
    • Marine reserves in hot spots are unsuitable for baseline studies and for making comparisons.
    • Marine reserves that degrade are not sustainable.


    The Goat Island Road

    The Goat Island Road leads from the main coastal route through the Goat Island valley (Whakatuwhenua Stream) to the Goat Island beach and the Marine Laboratory. Its climbing and winding part has been tar sealed in the early 1980s but its gently sloping lower part remained unsealed in gravel or 'metal' as it is called in New Zealand. 
    Because of the highly increased amount of traffic to the beach, it was upgraded in late 1996, but in order that the national roads board pay for it, it had to satisfy their minimal specifications, which became as wide as a three-lane road. Whereas a slight widening and sealing would have been sufficient, the job required extensive soil cutting and moving, and a narrow wooden bridge was replaced by a culvert an much infilling. Once the work was finished, the barren cuts were left abandoned, for the rains to wash out and to soil the Goat Island Channel. Not surprisingly, it led to the disappearance of species in the general area of the beach. But as we'll see further on, it was not the only source of mud.

    We ask ourselves why nobody took action to remedy what was obviously a major threat to the marine life inside a protected area.

    f970827: view of Goat Island and the valley
    f970827: a view of the idyllic Goat Island valley with Goat Island in the distance and the access road clearly visible on right.
    f970814: barrren roadsides caving in
    f970814: View of the almost-three-lane road which required an extensive amount of cutting and filling. The road sides were never covered and stabilised, resulting in massive erosion and mud entering the marine reserve.
    f970816: hundreds of tonnes of soil washed into the sea
    f970816: As the road sides remained barren while caving in, successive rainstorms washed hundreds of tonnes of mud into the marine reserve.
    f960508: the Goat Island Channel turned brown after each heavy rain
    f960508: for many years the Goat Island Channel turned coffee-brown after each heavy rain fall. Yet nobody took action.

    • Marine reserves do not protect against the major threat of mud washed down from the land.
    • The marine life degrades drastically because of mud entering the sea.
    • Visitors, reserve managers and scientists did not make the connection between mud and degradation.
    • Mud is a major threat, not only to marine life, but also to research, recreation, education and commerce.
    • For every marine reserve there should be an action plan for rehabilitating the land in its catchment areas and outside. This plan should entail practical solutions, education and financial incentives, and should be part of every marine reserve proposal. In the end, even marine reserves should be sustainable.
    • Scientists should be more aware of the threats from mud and focus some of their research on it.
    • Marine scientists are not necessarily also good caretakers. 
    • A conservation department with little experience of and presence in the sea is not a good caretaker.

    Coastal erosion

    Coastal erosion is a sad story all over New Zealand but particularly where the coast has been burnt for grazing. The coasts bordering the Goat Island marine reserve unfortunately form no exception. Where the coastal forest descended almost into the sea, farmers saw an opportunity of grazing it. As a result, the coastal fringe was burnt wherever grass could be established. The 50-150 years of grazing left its ecological footprint on this coastal strip through the absence of seedlings and young trees that should take the place of their parents now that these are dying from old age.
    Almost the entire coast of New Zealand has now arrived at a point where tree roots are no longer able to bind the soil to the steep coast, resulting in gradual and sudden slides of soil into the sea.
    f014208: the coast above the beach is eroding fast.
    f014208: because a free fence has always been available at the sea's border, farmers never considered fencing off the coastal strip. As a result, over 100 years of grazing have dispatched the seedlings and understorey of the coastal fringe forest. Now the last of the proud trees are dying from old age, followed by rapid erosion.
    f981122: severe coastal erosion bordering the marine reserve
    f981122: the coast bordering the marine reserve is eroding badly. Once upon a time, a luscious coastal forest stood here but after it was burnt, grazers prevented any regrowth. Now the stately Pohutukawa trees are dying of old age but no seedlings are there to replace them. Precious soil is lost to the sea where it kills sea life.

    f940717: The Goat Island Channel is a magical place
    f940717: When the water is clear, Goat Island is a magical place. The fishes think so too. People come from afar to swim with the friendly fishes. It is a place that could have come from heaven. But since the mid 1980s the situation changed quite suddenly, mainly because fertiliser was no longer subsidised.

    f960507: during storms the mud collected on the sea bottom is stirred up, clouding the waters.

    f212406: Heavy rain storms now colour the water brown as it runs off from degrading lands surrounding the reserve and the Pakiri River located west of it.

    f212406: heavy rain storms colour the water brown

    Where coasts are steep and farmers did not take the torch to the trees, the vegetation is under attack of a little monster introduced from Australia where it has in the meantime become endangered. The possum (as opposed to the American opossum), a marsupial, lives its entire life in the trees, descending only to make long journeys to other trees. In its pouch, a mother possum rears one joey which grows independent within one year. As a result, the fecundity of this species is high.

    One would think that trees are productive enough to survive the possum's grazing, but this is not the case in New Zealand, where the vegetation has developed very frugally. Thus contrary to expectation, native trees do not survive the grazing of possums, which has resulted in entire coasts being denuded. Now one can see the yellow bands of eroding soil where once trees stood but even this will eventually become invisible. In the end it will seem that New Zealand has always had denuded coasts.

    f970534: mother possum and joey
    f970534: a mother possum lies dead on the road and here joey did not survive either. New Zealanders do not dodge possums on the road since every dead one helps to fight their plague.
    f014321: Dead Pohutukawa trees on Cape Brett
    f014321: death by possum happens gradually first, but then suddenly as these bleached trees testify. Within ten years no sign will be left of the massacre caused by possums grazing their foliage. Bad land care? This land at Cape Brett is managed by the Dept of Conservation!

    f014324: a small moat stops possums from crossing
    f014324: a small moat between this island and the main land on right stops possums from crossing. On the right the trees are dead. No bird cries are heard. The little island, however, is alive with bird noises, and by night the screeching of sea birds and little blue penguins.
    Then DoC applied a possum poison (1080?). Now the island remains quiet by day and night. Fighting the possum plague is not easy.
    f970714: aluminium tree bands to deter possums
    f970714: People have peculiar ways of thinking. Here a precious stand of old Pohutukawa trees has been banded with aluminium sheet to prevent possums from climbing them. Although it saves the old trees, it does not save the seedlings and saplings which must one day replace them.

    • Protection of the sea cannot be passive, like creating a marine reserve and doing nothing.
    • Saving the sea begins on the land and the coastal fringe is an important part. Controlling possums and other parts is also important.
    • The coastal fringe is difficult to manage because it is steep and often inaccessible.
    • Fencing the coastal strip, followed by aerial applications of fertiliser to promote the growth of vegetation is a practical way to fight coastal erosion.Read our chapter about soil (big)
    • Every marine reserve application must have a practical coastal management plan.
    • Roading and other earth works must be done with more care than usual and supervised by the reserve management committee.
    • Incentives must be provided to farmers to fight erosion more effectively.
    • The local community must be involved and also in the decision making.



    Depending on how intensively the sea outside has been fished, the stocks of fished species inside a marine reserve will recover, usually by 2-3 times but sometimes more. It means that fishing inside becomes very rewarding. As the word goes out, often exaggerating about the bounties inside, it tempts people to poach.
    Poaching is done consciously and in a way not to be detected, as opposed to those who really don't know about the reserve. So these sneaky escapades are hard to detect and the offenders hard to catch. But the world is small, and eventually the person becomes exposed by someone in the know.

    In the beginning of any marine reserve, poaching is frequent because of those who oppose the reserve but mainly because people have to get used to the new situation. Often a word is enough to stop it altogether. In Leigh even the most ardent poachers have given up under the pressure of derision by their mates. But there is a good story to be told.

    The sunken car wrecks
    A marine reserve is particularly unfair to those fishermen who depended on the area for fishing. One would think that the sea is an open access fishery but this is not so in practice. Commercial fishermen have unwritten agreements on who fishes where, and so it can happen that the burden of displacement falls on only a very few.

    Once the marine reserve becomes a fact, the only place to fish is on its boundaries, which explains why fishing there is often done by those displaced. The seaward boundary of the reserve runs into a flat sandy bottom with good stocks of burrowed clams, fan shells and a scallop here and there. It is a fishing ground for fish, or a feeding ground. Snapper make daily migrations out of the reserve to visit such feeding grounds and even rocklobsters do so. They even stay on the sand, forming aggregations guarded by large males. In this manner the rocklobster fishery on the Chatham Islands rose to fame, where fishermen caught these crayfish with trawl nets!
    But trawling is prohibited closer than 0.5 nautical miles in winter and 1.0nm in summer. By comparison, the boundary of the reserve lies within 800m or 0.468nm. An error of judgement is easily made of course, particularly since the outside boundary is not marked. So one trawler of a big fishing company did the dirty and trawled its net through the reserve by night, to bag 500kg of crayfish or a cashie as it is known, fetching $20/kg on the black market. This was a $10,000 windfall profit for the crew, worthy of imitation and so it happened.

    However, in the process, these trawlers also scooped up the precious lobster traps (craypots) which annoyed the local cray fisherman no end. He complained, but received good laughter. Then he conceived a clever plan. He parked a number of car wrecks on the Leigh wharf, and by means of a strong tether, swooped them off the wharf deck into the sea, where he trawled them to within GPS precision inside the reserve's boundary. Several more car wrecks followed and the news was broadcast.

    It had the expected effect and protected his cray pots. However, a Leigh trawler ended up stuck in a car wreck (oops) and began to complain to the Maritime Safety Authority which then began to lean heavily on the poor fisherman. The situation had now become a SAFETY issue and the car wrecks had to go! So it happened. But the word remained that one was not quite sure whether all car wrecks had been retrieved!

    The fisherman has in the meantime moved elsewhere and has not bothered fishing the boundaries of the reserve since 1998 (when the crayfish disappeared?). Poaching does not happen to marine reserves only. These crayfishermen complain that about 10% of their catch is poached by others (divers and other fishermen).

    • The seaward boundary of marine reserves must be extended far out in sea to include feeding grounds.
    • Boundaries must have adequately wide buffer zones.
    • The boundaries must be marked to create certainty and to enable policing and compliance.
    • Boundaries must be simple, like straight lines in simple directions like East-West.
    • Marking them with trawlnet-destructing weights would not seem silly.
    • Co-operation from local fishermen is important for compliance.
    • Some local commercial fishermen and sustenance fishermen can be unfairly disadvantaged by a new marine reserve, which must be acknowledged and dealt with (compensated). 



    Policing to enforce the no-take rules is dreaded by all. The idea that rangers are policing the last bastion of freedom is anathema to boaties, divers and fishermen. These people wo ply the seas, are of a rugged type, hardened by the elements and are not easily impressed.  Once they see the need for a marine reserve, they turn into the staunchest of supporters. But they will never stoop to the lowness of being a ranger. For this office more gullible and principled types are found, ready to dish out condescending remarks about 'offences' that do not really matter to the environment, while being terribly upset about minor issues.

    The problems in enforcing rules are as follows:

    People perhaps do not realise sufficiently that a marine reserve is a fragile concept that depends on a succession of educational steps:
    1. The area must have been created with overwhelming consensus, otherwise too much antipathy remains.
    2. The area must have been marked on all charts and excessive signage including maps must be present near all points of access, boundaries and boat ramps. This requires several years of patience.
    3. So people must know where the reserve is and how to behave there.
    4. They must see the need for such behaviour (belief and co-operation).
    5. And they must actually behave as required.
    Any breakdown in this process leads to non-compliance.
    • It takes several years before charts have been marked, signs erected and people become used to the new situation.
    • Enforcement has a large educational component. Give people the chance to make up for their mistakes. Every wrongdoing has the opportunity for education.
    • Willing enforcement officers are often of the wrong type. Those from DoC have shown to be too idealistic and principled to do the job well.
    • Petty policing is the worst kind.
    • Local commercial operators are perhaps the most suited to keep an eye on affairs.
    • The world is not perfect; the sea is not. There are many factors making a reserve less than ideal. Enforcement must be weighed against these factors. Draconian enforcement will not have the desired effect.
    • When there are problems, consider what could be wrong with management, rather than perpetrators.



    Parking and amenities are always a problem since their need cannot be predicted in advance and also because visitors do not arrive in a steady stream but mainly in the summer season when during a few weekends they are shown to be inadequate.
    Goat Island Beach has a small lower parking about 30m from the centre of the beach, with easy access. With some skill, one can turn there. It has been reserved as a loading zone so that heavy goods such as dive gear can be dropped off.

    The top parking consists of a loop, just wide enough for buses to turn and angle-park off it. Two tighter loops lead to two terraces lower down. When fully occupied, visitors park along the access road up to 1km away from the beach. During such days it is estimated that over 4000 people are present on the beach and that some 10,000 visit that day by rotation.

    There are a number of issues to consider. In the good old days a gravel country road led to a grassy knoll which was the parking lot. Visitors met sheep grazing the grass as free grass mowers. A cattle stop grid prevented the sheep from straying out of the parking lot. Visitors used all kinds of inventivity to make best use of the available space, which was neither bordered nor marked. After the weekend, the parking reverted back to a grassy knoll as if the paddock had never been disturbed. Today a black tar sealed infrastructure remains when the people have left. It offers less parking for more space. What went wrong?

    On wet days cars could get stuck in the mud pools that developed as the reserve's success rose. The car park needed hardening. Locals would have done so with a hardened structure that would let the grass through; an urban bureaucracy chose for hard tar seal and rigid parkings with wooden barriers to prevent cars from straying out. Why?
    Suddenly it became an offence to park in a creative way. Suddenly there were much fewer parkings. Was this necessary?

    When the three-lane highway was completed, there was ample room to dedicate one lane to angle parking along up to 500m away. Instead, a small lane was marked, just enough for parallel parking. Fewer parks again.

    Then the department did away with the sheep because trees were being planted and it was more convenient to do away with the sheep and the cattle grid rather than fencing the new trees. The cost of maintenance increased.

    f992325: the parking seen from the air
    f992325: the parking seen from the air with the access road coming from the right and continuing along the cliff towards the Marine Laboratory in the distance.
    f015524: people park along the road on busy days
    f015524: On busy days, people park along the access road, far from the beach.
    Once there were rubbish bins for the convenience of the visitors but these required upkeep and were inadequate during a few very busy weekends. Now people take their rubbish home because the rubbish facilities were removed. Gradually people became used to the new regime and it appears to work.

    Toilet facilities
    Fresh running water is not available at Goat Island, and puritans of the enivronment somehow resist it. So people can't wash their feet clear from sand - not a problem because the grass will rub it off. As successful as the taking home policy is for rubbish, it can't work for ablutions. By the lower parking stands a small building with two equally small halves, for the separate sexes. There is a communal space each for changing and three toilets each for males and females.
    The toilets are mounted on top of a concrete bunker and are called long-drops, because that is what happens in 3 metres of free fall. On a regular basis the concrete tank is sucked out by a septic tank contractor. There is no water to wash hands. If a baby is in belly trouble, mother is in trouble too.

    Not surprisingly, the Seafriends toilets about 1.5km up the road, bring welcome relief. One of three is dedicated to invalids and mothers and it is very much sought after with its running warm water.

    Should a beach, however pristine have proper toilets with running water and hygienic washing facilities?

    new toilet blockA new toilet block has been built as shown on the photo. The problem of running water was solved by a bore and the sewage is treated by a local sewage treatment plant, left of the photo. Council workers clean the toilets every morning. There are waste bins for recyclable and nonrecyclable rubbish, yet the change has left a notable impression.
    Whereas previously the sewage was slurped up by a sewage truck and discharged in a proper place somewhere else, the present system eventually spills the processed water into the local creek and the marine reserve. As a result, the creek's water has become black and the water in front of the beach always murky. The new system leaves a small influence on the environment for every visitor, whereas the previous primitive system did not. As the reserve becomes more popular, the environment recedes proportionally. As usual, humans destroy the places they love.

    Interpretation and kiosk
    Coastal marine reserves are places where people arrive by car and then walk to the beach. The Goat Island marine reserve allows access to the water only in one place, by Goat Island. Thus everyone funnels through a narrow passage to the water. Here an information kiosk was placed with hand-painted displays of the marine environment and its inhabitants. Although most people walk just past, many study it carefully.

    f015110: information kiosk and signs along the access path
    f015110: Nearly everyone visiting the marine reserve pass along this track to the beach. The information kiosk and signs are placed strategically.
    f015109: official sign
    f015109: An official sign informs people of the reserve and what activities are forbidden: fishing, taking of seafood and fishing from boats.
    "The Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve is a unique protected area for you to enjoy. The reserve acts as a nursery for commercial fish stocks and as a place to view some of the richest marine life in the region.

    Buoys, moorings and markers
    It can be said that all the money in setting up and maintaining the marine reserve has been spent on amenities to benefit visitors. Nothing nice has been done for the marine environment. Divers have been left in the cold too. It concerns the use and maintenance of markers and buoys.
    When the reserve was opened, scientists had a system of small marker buoys scattered around the reserve. These were strong enough to moor a small craft like a dinghy. They gave researchers and divers a sense of place in the vastness and monotony of the sea. It allowed one to return to favourite dive sites and transects for monitoring and research. Then the little markers gave way to decay and storms, but they were never replaced, even though they appeared on the maps of the underwater marine reserve. Why?

    Dive groups requested permission to restore these markers and to place more permanent moorings on their preferred training grounds over sandy areas at about 10m depth. Such moorings help reduce anchoring damage and they provide a focus for safety in case of emergency. But permission was denied. Why?

    The marine reserve has sensitive benthic communities of sponges, also called sponge gardens. Although an anchor would not necessarily cause grievous damage, the anchor chain does when the wind or currents change and the boat swings around, the chain scraping the bottom. In such areas for the sake of protecting the sensitive habitat, strong moorings must be provided to signal that anchoring is prohibited and to provide an alternative. No such mooring buoys have been provided. Why?

    The outer boundary of the marine reserve is almost impossible to locate, even with the proper equipment such as radar and GPS. Boundary markers should have been provided from the very beginning and maintained thereafter. This has not been done. Why?

    Passengers can embark boats only off the small beach, and only where no boulders are found. It is a very restricted area where also many swimmers begin their discoveries. A collision between propellers and swimmers is thinkable but even so, is not of real concern because everyone is attentive and boats make only slow progress while people have also become used to the situation. However, the only glassbottom boat operator now claims a large proportion of this scarce resource, forcing others to wait or take risks.

    • A marine reserve with clear water and good access is bound to attract many visitors.
    • The management plan must be flexible and allow for gradual improvements as the need arises.
    • There will always be days that the amenities can't meet demand, but people will cope.
    • The parking is best done as angle parking. Parking layouts must allow for the maximum parking space.
    • A wide loop road must be available for buses, and bus parkings clearly marked.
    • Offroad parking on unhardened grass must be allowed in busy weekends.
    • Rather than using black tar seal think about using perforated pavers that let grass through.
    • An information kiosk makes sense only where access is funnelled through a narrow access way.
    • An information kiosk offers opportunity to educate the public about the marine environment and issues such as conservation, environmental degradation and how to behave inside marine reserves. It should not be used for propaganda.
    • Make amenities as unobtrusive as possible and flexible to cope with future extensions.
    • Local services should be used for maintenance such as mowing, etc.
    • Taking rubbish home is an acceptable strategy.
    • Running water is necessary for hygiene but costly to provide in the wilderness.
    • The amenities in the sea  and their maintenance should be part of the reserve's management plan
    • Stakeholders are prepared to give a hand in improving amenities.
    • Boundary markers must be clear and adequately spaced apart.
    • Mooring buoys should be provided over sensitive areas and remote reefs.
    • Marker buoys must be maintained for orientation purposes.
    • Local sewage treatment is not the best solution.



    The Leigh Marine Laboratory is located at the centre of the reserve, and indeed this reserve has specifically been created to allow scientists undisturbed access to the sea and protection of their experiments. But recently research has become more and more politically motivated. Mostly funded by the Department of Conservation who manages NZ's marine reserves, and whose interest it is to prove that marine reserves are working, research has focused on real and perceived benefits of marine reserves.

    Science has made civilisation great, and where supported by science, political decisions are better. While our use of the sea is intensifying at the same time that the degrading influence of the land is accelerating, research is needed to provide reliable knowledge for making long-lasting environmental decisions. Unfortunately, several things have gone wrong, as clearly set out in Myths(7) and Science Exposed, and also reflected in the long list of wrongs in the present politics regarding marine conservation. This is not the place for dwelling on the shortcomings on research done. Instead we'd like to stress the need for marine research wherever reserves are created. This research has the following nature:

    Read the chapter about monitoring the Goat Island marine reserve and how populations declined.
    f006102: a rocklobster tagged with an acoustic tag
    f006102: a rocklobster tagged with an acoustic tag tied to its back. Such tags are costly and difficult to attach. Fortunately this rocklobster is protected allowing research to proceed unhindered. But it loses the tag when moulting.
    f016803: mass kelp mortality in Jan 1993
    f016803: Due to dense plankton blooms, absorbing the sun light, the kelpbed died over its entire range in the spring of 1992. By January 1993 this was what it looked like. It caused major ecological reverberations afterwards.

    • Every marine reserve must be monitored regularly and over a long time period in order to register changes caused either by recovery or by other external events.
    • Water quality must also be monitored.
    • Monitoring must include the outcomes of management measures and whether the reserve is meeting its objectives.
    • Monitoring should include visitor surveys and social and economic impacts.
    • Monitoring must not be obsessed with commercially fished species, because these are not suitable as environmental indicators. 
    • Politically motivated and funded research may have unwanted effects on the quality of the research done (political/ideological bias, discontinuity, snapshot approach).
    • An emergency budget must be available to study unanticipated events.
    • Marine hot spots such as Goat Island are unsuitable as baselines to compare other more normal areas with.
    • Marine scientists do not necessarily notice the changes happening inside the marine reserve.


    Scientific pollution

    As part of their experiments, scientists often have to make changes to the environment, like mounting exclusion cages, settlement tiles and so on. All too often, however, these are not removed after the experiment finished. Some end up half destroyed by the sea, littering the places where they come to rest. Yet others remain a threat to visitors, such as steel bolts protruding from the rocky shore where school children wander. For a long time there have been clusters of cables littering the sea.
    scientific pollution
    0712142: scientific pollution on the intertidal rocky shore: sharp netted exclusion barriers and sharp stainless steel bolts, a threat for children studying the rocky shore.
    scientific experiments left behind and not removed
    f009615: scientific exclusion experiments on the intertidal rocky shore, not removed after use. When removed by fierce waves, their sharp bolts remain a threat.

  • Marine reserves were established for doing marine research, so this has priority over casual visitors.
  • Scientists need to be able to place structures on the shore or under water and where these are placed precisely depends on the shape of the shore and where research demands - there is little alternative
  • As long as structures are clearly visible, there exists no problem but invisible hazards such as bolts sticking out from the rock, must be removed
  • After an experiment, all structures must be removed.



    Marine reserves in remote areas can practically be left unmanaged as long as some supervision against poaching is present. But closer to human populations, more management is needed. In the unlikely case of a clear-water marine reserve with easy access near a large city, people will arrive in droves, particularly on warm days in the summer holidays.

    The international literature on marine reserves unanimously agrees on forms of local management with participation of stakeholders and local administrators. Most people (landlubbers) insufficiently understand the special nature of the sea and how it should be managed accordingly. Thus one of the largest impediments to success is central management by an ideologically motivated government department (DoC), as is the case for Goat Island. These people are so far removed from the sea and a reserve's daily needs, that management causes more conflict than it resolves. It is also less cost-effective while the benefits from maintenance and support do not flow into the local economy.

    • Marine reserves must be managed by the local community. They have the necessary local knowledge and presence to cope with day to day needs. They know the sea. They know the area.
    • Worst management is by centralised bureaucracies.
    • The management budget must be surrendered totally to the local management committee.
    • Management must understand the differences between land and sea.
    • Local services must be used to flow resources back into the local community.
    • Education is always part of management.
    • An emergency budget must be available to study unanticipated events.



    The Department of Conservation is keen to introduce concessions in order to exert further control over the use of the marine reserve. A concession gives the right to conduct a certain activity. It provides an income for the maintenance of the reserve and is in the order of 10% of revenue or as much as 30-40% of gross profit. Operators add a concession fee to their fares and pay DoC accordingly. Such cash generating systems are now in use in National Parks but their value for the sea must be questioned.

    1) The sea is a domain with free access and concessions would interfere with this freedom.

    2) The concession system is purported to enable DoC to control commercial activity in marine reserves, but we have coped well for 27 years so far, without any. It claims that non-commercial activity is free from concessions, but in many cases, it is exactly this which must be controlled for the sake of the environment. In other words, the concession system is not aimed at controlling activities detrimental to the environment, but aimed only at making money.

    3) Since concessions are based on extracting money, (a large percentage of profit), DoC is effectively having a finger in the honeypot. This means that it can no longer be seen to be an independent and impartial manager. As is known from many examples, DoC will be tempted to judge in favour of the honey, rather than the environment. This is already becoming evident in whale and dolphin watching.

    4) Concessions can and will be allocated to the highest bidder. This means that it favours large operators, to the detriment of smaller, often local operators. They, in turn, use it to keep competitors out. The local community suffers, as DoC creams off their potential profits. The commercial 'extraction' mushrooms as companies market their products aggressively in trying to maximise their profits. The environment suffers.

    5) It is wrong to bring in a system that makes people who go about their normal business, culpable or accountable to concessions. Dive operators have been using marine reserves for training for as long as these exist, indeed they have used the area long before. In fact, the Goat Island marine reserve was somehow taken off them. They do not go there for seeing fishes, but they use the shelter and clear waters around Goat Island for training and tests. At the same time, they introduce novice divers to the marine conservation concept. To drive them away, or to subject them to concessions for the simple reason that they are 'commercial' is anathema to the freedom every New Zealander is born with.

    • Marine reserves can be managed well without concessions. Indeed it could be argued that the desire for concessions stems from poor and ineffectual management.
    • The sea is a place of freedom with responsibility where concessions would interfere unduly.
    • Most of the use inside marine reserves is customary use, even though it may be commercial.
    • Education should not be subjected to concessions, even though education may be a commercial activity. Diving, adventure training and rocky shore studies are all forms of education.
    • Concessions make the Department of Conservation a participant in the commercial exploitation of natural resources.
    • Concessions lead to obligations - who pays, says. The line between conservation and exploitation becomes blurred.
    • Concessions lead to monopolies and extortion of the public.


    Glass bottom boat

    Because they attract visitors, marine reserves also attract commercial activity such as glass bottom boats. Often these are encouraged by management in order to enhance the popularity of the marine reserve. However, over time, as the commercial enterprise grows, conflicts with other activities arise. The glass bottom boat is taken as an example but please note that the current operator is aware of possible conflicts and tries hard to avoid them.

    The early version of the glass bottom boat for which permission was given to operate inside the marine reserve, was a small tub that could seat some 20-30 people around a central window. It was small enough to take advantage of small beaches while hardly interfering with swimmers and snorkellers. Then suddenly a much larger model appeared, this time large enough to do a bus load of passengers at once. Passengers are now seated around two windows. Soon complaints from other beach users began to surface:

     Please note that the glassbottom boat is taken as an example to illustrate that what begins small as a good idea, may become a bad idea once it grows under the influence of commercial motives.
    the small glassbottom boat
    f015822: the first glassbottom boat was small enough to take advantage of small beaches but it had to do a bus load in two trips.
    large glassbottom boat Goat Island
    0901023: the latest glassbottom boat can take a busload of passengers at once. It can't help interfering with traditional activities.

  • Reserve management must be aware that a small commercial enterprise will eventually grow larger until it is too large for its own good. Size matters.
  • Heavy commercial advertising and marketing draw an ever larger stream of people to the beach for nothing else, putting pressure on ALL amenities.
  • The beach becomes essentially a transit terminal for the commercial enterprise.
  • The influx of such targeted customers interferes with the traditional use of the beach and sea by occupying beach space, parking lots and more.
  • A line may need to be drawn between motorised tourism and self-propelled tourism, as the two are in conflict with one another.
  • Management must distinguish between commercial activities that support traditional use and those that do not.
  • A motorised unit can be a nuisance and an eyesore, as well as a threat to others.
  • A single operator occupies a monopoly position without the necessary competition to keep prices honest.
  • Net public benefit must be weighed against liabilities at all stages of growth.


    Outreach centre

    The University of Auckland plans to establish a public "educational outreach centre" as part of extensions to the Leigh Marine Laboratory, now renamed the South Pacific Centre for Marine Studies (SPCMS). The new centre is "for visitors to the area and school children in Auckland and Northland to better understand the marine environment". However, this function has for 16 years been fulfilled by the Seafriends Marine Conservation and Education Centre located at the Goat Island Road, a mere 1km from the sea and the Marine Laboratory. So why would the New Zealand Government attempt to kill an established private institute with a long track record of excellence in marine education for the public?
    Read what the Marine Laboratory expansion entails and the questionable thinking behind it.
  • While a Marine Laboratory is necessarily located on the coast and central to a marine reserve, it must nonetheless be viewed as another commercial activity that needs to be managed for the public good and for the good of the marine reserve.
  • Extending a marine laboratory is no different from that of extending the size of a glass bottom boat or that of any other commercial activity on or next to the marine reserve. What was good while small, becomes bad when big.
  • Extending a marine laboratory with activities that are not its core business, must therefore be condemned.
  • A publicly funded institution should not compete with a commercial enterprise which makes ends meet.
  • It is bad practice to draw more business to a location that is already choked by limited parking space, turning for buses, limited sewage treatment and so on, particularly when that business is not needed or can be located elsewhere.
  • The local community must be consulted in a manner that it can have a say and can veto the plan.
  • All plans including operational budgets, must be disclosed fully without hidden agendas. It is a principle of participative democracy.