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What Your Vote Means For The Sea

3 July 2002

Contact: Karli Thomas Phone: 09 623 3252 Mobile: 021 646 193

New Zealand Underwater Association has asked the main political parties about their marine policies for the 2002 election.

The association's environmental coordinator Karli Thomas said today "our members have an active interest in the marine environment. People want to know what their vote will mean for the sea".

The previous government launched the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy in 2000, which sets a goal of protecting ten percent of our marine area by 2010. "Political parties are divided on the issue of marine conservation" Ms Thomas said.

The coalition parties - Labour and the Alliance, as well as Jim Anderton's Progressive Coalition, support the goal of ten percent marine protection by 2010. They also support the Marine Reserves Bill 2002, which aims to help implement the Biodiversity Strategy goal for marine protection.

"Labour's goal is to protect ten percent of the marine area, however there have been no marine reserves created in the last three years under the Labour coalition." Ms Thomas said. Currently less than 0.1% of our coastal waters are protected in marine reserves.

National supports marine reserves, but would prefer an emphasis on protecting a range of different habitat types, with more flexibility on the actual area (this could mean more or less than ten percent protection). The party has a goal to establish nine new marine reserves in three years.

The Green Party proposes a greater emphasis on marine conservation, wanting twenty percent of the marine area protected in marine reserves. They also support the Marine Reserves Bill, and want a marine reserves strategy developed that will link with the Biodiversity Strategy.

The Act party are divided on their views - Gerry Eckhoff (spokesperson for environment and conservation) says that that party supports the concept of marine reserves. However Rodney Hide (spokesperson for fisheries) is quoted in Seafood New Zealand magazine saying that marine reserves are not needed. Act's policy on environment and conservation makes no mention of marine reserves.

New Zealand First had no specific policies on marine reserves, but has policies on both conservation and environment and fisheries.

New Zealand Underwater Association believes that "what happens in our underwater environment is every New Zealander's concern" Ms Thomas said.

-ends-

For further information:

Karli Thomas Environmental Coordinator New Zealand Underwater Association

1/40 Mt Eden Rd PO Box 875 Auckland Phone 09 623 3252 Mobile 021 646 193 Fax 09 623 3523 karli@nzunderwater.org.nz www.nzunderwater.org.nz


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