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Environment report: species at risk, action needed

Embargoed to Noon Thursday 31 January 2008

31 January 2008 – Wellington – Environment New Zealand 2007

Environment report highlights species at risk and action needed from farming, fishing and transport to protect environment

The Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO) today called for more action to protect the New Zealand environment.

ECO was responding to the State of the Environment Report released today which was the first summary of the New Zealand environment since 1997.

The report highlights the impacts dairy farming and fishing in the marine environment and the continuing distress of New Zealand native species.

“The Ministry for the Environment is to be congratulated for pulling together so much information – it is a huge effort. But now we need to act,” says Barry Weeber, ECO Co-Chairperson.

“The interdepartmental report makes it very clear that fishing by trawling and other methods that drag on the seafloor is by far the most damaging activity in the marine environment. New Zealand needs to follow international leads to effectively control this damage.”

The Minister of Fisheries fell into a trap laid for him by the fishing industry and allowed them to get away with fake protected areas. Now we need to actually switch from bottom trawling and Danish seining to less damaging fishing methods, and to genuinely protect much more of the New Zealand marine areas in marine reserves.

There is an urgent need for a National Policy Statement on biodiversity so that impacts on ecosystems and species is addressed under the Resource Management Act processes.

The Environment NZ 2007 report understates the destruction of marine species and stocks. There is little on the huge losses of species caught as bycatch in fisheries including threatened albatross, petrels and marine mammals.

The Report also makes it clear that the way we use land and water absolutely has to change. Intensified farming, especially dairying is putting our basic life support systems and climate and water in great jeopardy.

The Federated Farmer’s response that we make a choice between dairy exports and the environment misses the point that we have choices about how much damage we do, and that the income from dairying is not going to last, whereas the environmental damage from too intensive farming causes lasting destruction of the environment’s capacity to support future economic and other activity.

The continuing distress of New Zealand native species comes out loud and clear. There is an urgent need for a National Policy Statement on biodiversity so that impacts on ecosystems and species is addressed under the Resource Management Act processes.

It is good news that we have some reduction in the energy intensity of economic production, but this is offset by the increased greenhouse gases that New Zealand has produced. Dairying, fishing and the domestic vehicle fleet, as well as burning coal are responsible and must be addressed urgently.

It is clear we need to expand our monitoring of the environment and our impacts on the environment and the Government needs to increase funding for this purpose.


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