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Sandra Lee Speaks To Coastal Society Seminar 2000

Hon Sandra Lee

Keynote Speech To Coastal Society Seminar 2000: Coastal Management In NZ—Theory Vs. Practice
Maritime Room, Auckland Maritime Museum, Quay Street, Auckland

Thank you for inviting me here today.

As many of you will be aware, the Resource Management Act came into force in 1991, and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement was gazetted in 1994.

With only a handful of Regional Coastal Plans approved between then and now, it would be an understatement to observe that the completion record doesn’t look great!

To date only four regional coastal plans have been approved:
 Taranaki,
 Manawatu/Wanganui,
 Hawkes Bay, and
 Wellington.

Three more have been submitted to me, as Minister of Conservation, for approval, covering
 Otago,
 the West Coast, and
 the Chatham Islands.

The purpose of the Regional Coastal Plans is to promote sustainable management of the Coastal Marine Area and translate the New Zealand Coastal Policy statement into the regional context.

In deciding whether to approve a proposed plan I need to be satisfied that it is "not inconsistent" with the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, and that none of its provisions are outside the powers bestowed by the Resource Management Act. The plan must also adequately address the resource management issues of the region.

I am aware that there has been criticism from some councils of the Minister of Conservation’s role in coastal management. I understand that some councils consider that they can do the job on their own, and that there is no need for the Minister to approve plans or be the consent authority for restricted coastal activity applications.

In the light of this sentiment, perhaps I should take the opportunity to remind you why the decision was made to have the Conservation Minister involved in some aspects of the coastal management regime.

Firstly, the majority of the coastal marine area is in Crown ownership (although I note that there are a number of claims around the country for customary ownership of foreshore and seabed).

Secondly, it was considered that there was a need for someone to represent the national community of interest.

Thirdly, many issues in the coastal marine area cross regional boundaries. The coast is subject to large scale coastal processes involving water and sediment that ignore artificial boundaries.

And fourthly, involvement of the Minister of Conservation recognised that at the time the legislation was passed, coastal planning in New Zealand was in its infancy.

Because of these considerations, it was decided to retain some Crown involvement in the coastal regime by giving the Minister of Conservation responsibility for the only mandatory National Policy Statement - the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.

For the same reason, the Minister was also made the approval authority for regional coastal plans (which are also mandatory) and the consent authority for those activities described as restricted coastal activities.

The delay to completion of the coastal plans appears to be partly due to the broad cross section of interests in the coastal environment and the requirement of councils that they grapple, often for the first time, with preparing legal planning documents for the coast.

Despite the delays, some councils are beginning to move into the next phase of plan implementation.

The plan implementation phase requires a shift in mind-sets and resources. In particular the councils need to be moving resources into the non-regulatory methods for implementing the coastal plans.

There needs to be on-going consultation and involvement of communities, in particular iwi, in coastal management throughout the implementation of the plans, and it should not be confined to a once-in-a-decade discussion.

Monitoring the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement

Up until now most of the efforts of the Department of Conservation have been put into assisting councils with the preparation of their proposed regional coastal plans.

Now that there are a few coastal plans in place and a few more likely to be approved in the near future, the Department intends to move into monitoring the effectiveness of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement in achieving the purpose of the Act.

DOC has developed a framework for monitoring the coastal policy statement. The Department will be contacting local government representatives shortly to discuss the framework and how NZCPS monitoring will interconnect with the developing council plan monitoring programs.

The aim is to develop a pragmatic and straightforward monitoring framework that links policy, science and stakeholders views, to develop a comprehensive picture.

The elements are:
 Monitoring of plans and decisions on resource consents with the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement
 Identifying, prioritising and assessing the effectiveness of key or contentious policies;
 Identifying policy gaps, and prioritising remedial work;
 Ensuring that coastal indicators used in State of the Environment monitoring are appropriate for monitoring the Coastal Policy Statement.
 Consulting stakeholders to determine their views on the effectiveness of policies, and any gaps in policies.

Monitoring of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement will contribute to the on-going development of the Government's new Oceans Policy, and provide information to enable the effectiveness of the NZCPS to be reviewed in 2003.

The Government's new Oceans Policy

The Minister of Fisheries, Hon. Pete Hodgson, will be officially launching the Oceans Policy this afternoon.

He will outline details of how and when you can become involved in creating an over-arching policy framework for our oceans.

But I would like to give you some background concepts to consider in the meantime.

We manage the marine environment in the face of competition between all its users-commercial fishers, recreational fishers, tourism operators, shippers, miners, rubbish dumpers and land uses that cause sedimentary run-off or pollution.

But there is no over-arching policy framework guiding a lot of the decisions we have to make when competition becomes conflict. The recent collision between the Fisheries Act and the Resource Management Act over aquaculture may be the first of many. We want public policy to stay ahead of the game. We need some sort of framework.

This year the Government agreed to the development of an Oceans Policy to provide a comprehensive and coordinated legal and policy regime by which to manage New Zealand’s marine environment.

The project is being led by the Hon Pete Hodgson. In support of Mr Hodgson, an Ad Hoc Ministerial Group has been set up to oversee the project as a whole.

I am on that Ad Hoc Group as Minister of Conservation and Local Government.

The Oceans Policy will focus on the issues associated with managing the marine environment within the jurisdiction of New Zealand.

The marine environment is the sovereign waters of the internal coastal and territorial sea, the resources and ecosystems of the waters and seabed of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the resources of the seabed of the continental shelf beyond the EEZ.

The Oceans Policy is intended to provide ways to successfully manage the impact of human activity on the marine environment. It will address the interaction between land management and the status and quality of the marine environment and the inter-tidal zone, and consider management and policy issues associated with such areas.

The coastal management regime under the Resource Management Act is therefore one of the components of the current legal framework for management of the marine environment which will be considered in the development of the Oceans Policy.

In developing the Oceans Policy the Government wishes to be inclusive of all the interests in the marine environment and to take a multi-disciplinary approach to define what New Zealanders want to achieve by managing the marine environment and their shared vision for our oceans.

You in the New Zealand Coastal Society will naturally have a useful contribution to make. We will welcome your expertise and input.


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