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NZ Govt Refuses to Support International Marine Protection

NZ Govt Refuses to Support International Marine Protection Motion

Today, at the World Conservation Congress, environmental group WWF branded the New Zealand Government’s refusal to support a motion on expanding marine protection as out of step with marine science and the 96 per cent of Kiwis who want more of New Zealand oceans protected.

The motion – urging governments to aim for setting aside 30 per cent of the marine environment in protected areas by 2030 – was passed today by a majority of members at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (in Hawaii). The New Zealand government abstained.

“Supporting this motion would have sent an important signal – a statement to the world that New Zealand takes marine conservation seriously and intends to safeguard its natural resources, biodiversity and the future health of the oceans,” said Chris Howe, Executive Director for WWF-New Zealand, who is attending the Congress.

“It is hugely disappointing that the New Zealand government refused to support this motion – which was approved by massive margin. It looks like the government chose to listen to the irrational arguments of a few fishing industry lobbyists rather than to the science and the 96 per cent of New Zealanders who want more marine protection,” he said.

"WWF is particularly disappointed the New Zealand government abstained given the efforts made to ensure the motion took into account the rights of indigenous peoples," he added.

Marine scientists from around the world agree that one of the best ways to protect marine biodiversity is to safeguard examples each different habitat type in networks of no-take marine reserves.

Mr Howe said the international movement to protect marine biodiversity – led by countries such as Australia, USA, UK and Chile – had moved well away from threat/risk based marine protection, and was actively protecting marine biodiversity in representative networks.

“Safeguarding marine biodiversity in protected areas is an important part of ensuring healthy, productive marine ecosystems that are robust and resilient to multiple threats,” he said.

Mr Howe said New Zealand needed an MPA framework that enabled the full range of species and habitats and ecosystems to be protected in both the territorial sea and the EEZ and included iwi and other stakeholders in decision-making processes.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

2011 New Colmar Brunton polling found 96 per cent of Kiwis think more of New Zealand’s oceans should be protected in ‘no take’ marine reserves – areas set aside as off limits for extractive activities such as fishing and mining. http://www.wwf.org.nz/?7001/New-research-shows-Kiwis-want-over-a-third-of-our-oceans-protected

Chris Howe, Executive Director for WWF-New Zealand, is attending the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.

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