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Groups Welcome Marine Management Reform

Media Release - Thursday 20 January 2000 - Wellington

Marine Management Reform Recommendation Welcomed – ECO

A call by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment for “a major recrafting of our thinking, policies and legislation” for the management of human impacts on the marine environment has been welcomed today by the national alliance of 70 organisations with a concern for the environment, ECO.

“Such a reform is well overdue; the previous government did nothing about it but we are hopeful that this government and many officials understand the pressing case for such reform,” says Cath Wallace, spokesperson for ECO.

“The process for the extension of New Zealand sovereignty to the continental shelf under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea has really brought into focus the fragmented, incoherence of our marine management. This is especially the case outside the territorial sea, which only extend to 12 nautical miles.

“Inside the territorial sea the Resource Management Act applies. Beyond it there is no substantial environmental administration – just a ragbag of agencies and laws with different objectives and processes and mostly only focussed on taking from the marine environment. There is very little provision for public input or expression of values. The Parliamentary Commissioner is spot on that this has to change.

“The Parliamentary Commissioner has drawn attention to the need for control of the damage being wrought by fishing and its impacts, erosion and run-off and other forms of pollution.

“Fishing does by far the most damage and the Ministry of Fisheries has been extremely reluctant to make any effort to comply with its environmental obligations under the Fisheries Act 1996. We are hopeful that the new Minister of Fisheries, Pete Hodgson will move swiftly to address this.

“The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has raised many questions about the capacity of the Quota Management System to protect the environment, the underfunding of research on the impacts of fishing and the environmental damage and the failure to take action.

“The concerns about fisheries from the Parliamentary Commissioner comes close on the heels of a little noticed, but damning, report by the Controller and Auditor General on the information basis of fisheries management. That report,* tabled in Parliament at the very end of the last sitting, criticises the performance of the Ministry of Fisheries for failing to ensure adequate environmental and other information and for its failure to apply the environmental principles of the Fisheries Act 1996.”

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has called for “a complete reappraisal of the institutional, legal and knowledge bases with which we manage the marine environment.” Cath Wallace said ECO supports this call and is encouraged that both Labour and the Alliance have earlier said that they see this area as one for major reform.**

“It is essential that the public is involved in this process and that a group of relevant Ministers work to ensure that there is public input, an ecosystem focus to the reforms and consistency and effectiveness of protection,” said Cath Wallace.

“ECO will be very interested in the government’s response to the two reports: that from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and that of the Controller and Auditor General.”

Sources: * The Controller and Auditor General : Fifth Report to Parliament, 1999; section 5. ** Launch of the Labour green policies, Labour on Conservation; Labour on Fisheries; responses to the Vote for the Environment Charter 1999.

ENDS


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