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Marine reserve won’t mask National’s dire track record

New marine reserve won’t mask National’s dire marine conservation track record

Today’s announcement of a new Te Korowai marine protected area off the coast of Kaikoura must be matched with wider protections for our precious marine life, Green Party said today.

“This protected area, while very welcome, is a drop in the marine protection bucket,” said Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“The collaborative approach by the Kaikoura community has made this protected area possible and their work needs to be acknowledged,” said Mr Hughes.

“While the marine protections announced today are warranted and welcome, they do not make up for the fact that the National Government is overseeing gross environmental destruction of our marine environment.

“The National Party is not a champion of marine protection, it is far from it.

“The oil blocks offered last year were more than 4,000 times larger than this proposed marine reserve and the Government still isn't taking the steps needed to protect the endangered Maui's dolphin and New Zealand Sea Lion.

“This new marine reserve is only 104 square kilometres and keeps the percentage of New Zealand's EEZ and Territorial Sea area protected by marine reserves still standing at an incredibly low 0.41 percent.

“When it comes to the environment National gives with one hand while it destroys with another.

“While we welcome this new marine reserve and the benefits it will bring to the Kaikoura region, having less than half of one percent of New Zealand’s waters protected by marine reserves isn't good enough.

“I urge the creation of the worlds largest marine reserve around the Kermadecs and the development of modern marine reserves legislation that would see significant protection across our marine area.

“New Zealanders love our oceans, and want to protect them. This new protected area is an acknowledgement of that and needs to be followed with other, wider protections,” said Mr Hughes.

National’s track record on marine protection:
• The National Government has ignored the overwhelming scientific advice to protect Maui’s dolphins; they are still allowing dolphin lethal fishing methods in large parts of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary. (https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/maui-s-proposal-too-little-too-late)
• National is still letting our endangered New Zealand Sea Lion die in squid fishing nets when squid can be caught using the jigging method which poses little harm to sea lions. Two sea lions have already been killed this year in squid fishing nets. (https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/moratorium-squid-fishing-needed-protect-endangered-sea-lions)
• The National Government has made supportive comments about Trans Tasman Resources’ application to mine iron sands in an area frequented by the endangered blue whale. (Supportive comments: see 39:45: http://www.tv3.co.nz/3RD-DEGREE-Wednesday-April-17-2013/tabid/3692/articleID/91769/Default.aspx)
• The National Government has granted a mining licence for an area of the ocean where the sea floor is protected (called a benthic protected area). (https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/govt-grants-mining-licence-marine-protected-area)
• The National Government has only protected less than half of one percent of New Zealand’s waters in marine reserves.
• The National Government declined the Akaroa marine reserve. It was not until they were taken to court and had a judicial review go in the Akaroa community’s favour that they implemented it (https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/minister-s-akaroa-marine-reserve-decision-quashed).

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