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More funding for marine environment needed

Hon Sandra Lee
Minister of Conservation

News release

20 January 2000

More funding for marine environment needed

Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee today welcomed the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report into the management of New Zealand's marine environment.

"The report clearly states that research into marine ecosystems has been sorely underfunded in recent years. The marine environment is a priority area for me and I will be working hard to increase funding in this area."

"I welcome the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment for a greater involvement of tangata whenua and interest groups in the development of policies regarding the marine environment. I strongly believe that working together is the only path forward when we, as a country, need to balance the demands of different groups within the community."

Ms Lee said raising the profile on a review of the Marine Reserves Act was timely as the review was already underway.

"The terms of reference of the Marine Reserves Act review include considering how the Act can be improved, so that it can be used as a protection tool for marine areas. It will also focus on how to achieve better integration of marine reserves with other marine management measures, and better ways of addressing concerns of Maori. Another question the review is investigating is whether the jurisdiction of the Act should be 12 nautical miles, as it is currently, or be extended to 200 nautical miles, which is the edge of the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone)."

The recommendation of improved protection for a representative sample of seamounts (undersea mountains that rise steeply from the seabed to below sea level) was also supported by Ms Lee. She said she was aware of the Ministry of Fisheries strategy on seamounts currently in development and hoped it would be a broad initiative that would cover all the threats to seamounts.

"I agree that better integration of coastal management is absolutely required. I will be encouraging my department to work closely with the other key players in the marine field."

The major recommendation of the report was the development of a long term strategy for managing New Zealand's marine environment sustainably, through the formation of a Task Force.

"This long term and comprehensive approach to the marine environment is essential. I definitely see conservation playing a key role in this."

ENDS

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