Watch Dog Says NZ Falling Behind on Oceans
Launch of looking out to sea
New Zealand as a model for oceans governance
Monday 7 November, Greater Wellington Regional Council, 5.30pm - 7.00pm
Environmental Watch Dog Says NZ Falling Behind on Management of Oceans
The Environmental Defence Society today called on the new Minister responsible for oceans policy, Hon David Benson-Pope, to urgently revive the government’s Oceans Policy review.
The society warns that, although a world leader in some aspects of ocean management, New Zealand has fallen behind in other critical areas.
The society says New Zealand falls far short of adequate provision for highly protected areas, with only 0.3 per cent of its oceans so protected, and not enough is known about the extent to which human activities are disrupting marine ecosystems generally. It says four notable gaps are evident:
- Failure of
fisheries management to seriously grapple with addressing
impacts of trawling and dredging on seabed habitats
- Failure to reduce the levels of land-based
sedimentation and pollution
entering the marine area
Lack of an effective mechanism to control the arrival of
species on vessels’ hulls, such as seas squirts, which are damaging New Zealand mussel farms
Lack of a consistent environmental regime to manage the
effects of activities outside the territorial sea.
In 2000, the government commenced the development of a national oceans policy, but this was put on hold during 2003 while the foreshore and seabed ownership issue was resolved.
“Now the dust has settled after the election, it is time to get cracking on radically improving the management of our oceans,” said Raewyn Peart, the Society’s Senior Policy Analyst.
“Oceans are the last frontier on earth. They cover most of the globe, they influence our weather and they are an important source of food and other resources. They have yet to be fully explored or conquered. They promise great riches and with recent advances in technology, they are open to extensive exploitation.”
“Unfortunately the utilization of our oceans is outstripping our scientific understanding and management systems,” said Raewyn Peart in the Society’s “Oceans Policy Report” released today.
The Report ‘Looking Out to Sea: New Zealand as a model for ocean governance’ is a collaboration with the US-based Conservation International. It is being launched by the Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, at a function in Wellington this evening.
Meanwhile, the society, is hosting its own national conference Seachange 05 in Auckland on November 21 and 22. The conference, which includes top overseas and local speakers, will focus on what it would take for New Zealand to be a world leader in coastal, marine and oceans governance.
“The oceans policy initiative provides New Zealand with the opportunity, not only to significantly improve environmental outcomes for our oceans, but to become an exemplar of best practice oceans governance for the rest of the world. It is an opportunity not to be missed,” said Raewyn Peart.
The Environmental Defence Society, established in 1971, is a group of resource management professionals and academics who are committed to improving New Zealand’s environmental outcomes. It has actively opposed a number of proposed coastal developments and recently launched a coastal development guide.