Positive step for oceans, but sea change needed
New environmental regulations a positive step for oceans, but sea change in thinking needed - WWF
Statement For immediate release - 27 June 2008
Environment Minister Trevor Mallard announced today that the Ministry for the Environment is drafting legislation to manage the environmental effects of currently unregulated activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Commenting on the announcement, WWF-New Zealand Marine Programme Manager, Rebecca Bird, said:
“This is a positive step forward for protecting New Zealand’s oceans. It seeks to resolve the current unacceptable situation where the environmental impacts of activities such as petroleum exploration and prospecting in our oceans are unregulated. We have been campaigning strongly for the government to bring in environmental regulations for these activities, so today’s announcement is encouraging. We also welcome the Ministry’s decision to allocate extra resources, in the form of a commissioner and new unit for application processing, monitoring and enforcement. Providing adequate resources for the regulations will be essential to their effectiveness.
“However, we are disappointed that the government is taking a limited approach, rather than an ecosystem-based management approach.
“Our vision is for marine biodiversity to be protected, living and non-living marine resources utilised sustainably, and the integrity of the system not degraded or compromised – this is best achieved through regulating the exploitation of ocean resources through an ecosystem-based approach. Instead, the government has adopted a ‘patching the gap’ approach. This flies in the face of current thinking about marine governance and management.
"We will continue to campaign for the government to introduce EEZ legislation that delivers ecosystem-based management through marine spatial planning. It’s a balancing act – we need to have a system where we balance protecting the environment and biodiversity, with the economic value of resource exploitation. A marine spatial planning approach is vital to delivering this.
“The government needs to focus immediate effort on delivering ecosystem-based management throughout the territorial seas and New Zealand’s EEZ. We’re calling on the Ministry for the Environment to take the lead on meeting these obligations to protect our oceans. People rely on the ecological systems of the oceans being healthy. It’s important for our own future that we ensure the oceans are protected today.”
Marine spatial planning
Delivering ecosystem-based management involves developing an agreed marine spatial plan, which includes designating and protecting an ecologically representative network of marine protected areas, ecosystem-based fisheries management, and regulatory standards/tools for specific sectoral activities permitted to take place in preferred development zones. Environmental assessment tools such as strategic environmental assessment and environmental impact assessments can facilitate decision-making within the development of an agreed spatial plan.
WSSD is the World Summit on Sustainable Development. At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), a significant milestone was reached by over 100 countries, for a Plan of Implementation that agreed on several specific ecosystem-related targets including: achievement of “substantial” reductions in land-based sources of pollution by 2006; introduction of the ecosystems approach to marine resource assessment and management by 2010; designation of a network of marine protected areas by 2012; and the maintenance and restoration of fish stocks to maximum sustainable yield levels by 2015.