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Greens delighted at advancement of ocean policy

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said she was delighted that so much of the Green Party's marine conservation policy has been taken on board in today's conservation announcement.

Ms Fitzsimons said this was the first New Zealand government to recognise that marine conservation had long lagged behind land conservation and to implement a strategy and funding to remedy the situation.

"Today's announcement picks up on the two challenges issued to the Government in January this year. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment recommended an Oceans Taskforce to integrate management of the marine environment. The Audit Office was highly critical of the Ministry of Fisheries and found that the environmental requirements of the Fisheries Act were not being observed," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said she felt relieved at today's announcement after calling for these problems to be addressed for years.

"The Primary Production Select Committee of which I was a member produced a damning report on the financial review of the Ministry of Fisheries. Environmental concerns have hardly figured in the Ministry's work," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Compared with other countries we have been spending very little on fisheries research and only a tiny five per cent of this goes to investigating the effects of fishing on the marine environment.

"The Green Party fully support the additional funding for research on marine communities including seamounts, Spirits Bay and the Ross Sea in Antarctica. However there remain serious problems in the Hauraki Gulf which have resulted in scallop disease and death and these problems also require urgent investigation.

"The Green Party are particularly pleased at the additional funding for marine reserves - which moves the Government closer to the Green policy of having 20 per cent of our coastal waters protected as no-take areas.

"Marine reserves are a key tool for ecosystem protection, and provide nursery areas for fish breeding which enhance fishery catches," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ends

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 07 868 6641, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

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