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Government responds to Greens' billboard

25 August 2005

Government responds to Greens' Albatross billboard

The Greens are congratulating the Fisheries Minister for developing the first Government strategy to address the effects of fishing on our endangered species.

"I'm delighted the Government has read and understood our 'albatross' election billboards, which, with a pic of one of the giant sea birds, says 'Free in the wild? Or dead in the water? Its your vote'," Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope launched the Strategy for Managing the Environmental Effects of Fishing at the 2005 Conference of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society yesterday.

"While this move shows that the current Labour-led Government has realised the urgency of the situation, the key to the success of the strategy will be how quickly the new rules can be put in place and enforced. Setting the standard is the last of eight steps they have identified and that is only the start of actually protecting anything. We can't afford to wait until the key species are extinct.

"Whether this new strategy will, even then, actually protect our albatrosses, Hector's dolphin, sea lions and rare coral forests will depend on how high the standards are, whether there are independent observers on the boats and independent verification of the industry's environmental impact assessment processes, and whether there are real penalties for non-compliance - not fines, but an end to fishing for that season.

"We look forward to working with Labour to implement these key Green policies.

"But all of this may be at risk if National takes the Treasury benches. In the most recent issue of its newsletter Conservation News, Forest and Bird rate the parties on their stated public positions on a number of conservation issues. The Greens get a tick from Forest and Bird in all sixteen categories, including double ticks in the four marine conservation areas, and Labour gets ticks in thirteen areas.

"By comparison, National gets ticks in only three areas, so it's clear that a Don Brash-led Government would seriously compromise conservation values, something that New Zealanders who care about our endangered species should keep in mind when they vote," Ms Fitzsimons says.

See Forest and Bird's 'where the parties stand on the environment' at http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/publications/consnews/2005august.pdf

ENDS

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