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Industry proposal for Benthic Protection Areas

15 June 2006

Fishing industry proposal for Benthic Protection Areas will fail to protect deep sea floor environments

The exclusion of non-fishing interests, poor methodology, and failure to ensure adequate marine protection are among the New Zealand Conservation Authority’s criticisms of the proposal by the Deepwater Stakeholder Group (who are members of the New Zealand fishing industry) for dealing with the effects of bottom trawling.

“We’re fine with fishers putting their own interests first, and welcome their acceptance of a need for deep sea floor protection but their proposal for Benthic Protection Areas appears to be more about special treatment of their interests than responsible management of the marine environment,” NZCA chairman Kerry Marshall said today.

He was speaking on behalf the NZCA who met today in Wellington to discuss their submission to the Ministry of Fisheries consultation document on the establishment of Benthic Protection Areas. Submissions closed last Friday (9 June).

If approved, the proposal would bind the Minister of Fisheries into an accord with the fishing industry that would limit the matters the Minister may consider when exercising his decision making powers, Mr Marshall said.

“In effect, what this does is protect the interests of the fishing industry to the exclusion of anyone else’s interests. The proposal is fatally flawed, from the methods chosen to the conclusions reached.”

In particular, the NZCA considers:

- That an “accord” between a single stakeholder and the Minister of Fisheries that could lead to law changes to entrench the rights and interests of the fishing sector is highly inappropriate

- That the proposed continuation of fishing with methods other than bottom trawling and dredging does not constitute marine protection nor enable the full range of ecosystems to be protected.

- That the BPAs proposed by the fishing industry will fail to ensure protection of a fully-representative range of habitats and ecosystems.

- That the method for BPA selection was ad hoc and not based on science

- That acceptance of the proposal and the approach taken would inhibit the Minister’s future options for marine protection elsewhere in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

- That the timing of the proposal to establish BPAs will conflict with the marine protection processes already in train, and could undermine the development of a comprehensive Oceans Policy.

- That the proposed repeal of existing seamount protection and closures should be opposed.

- That the recommendations for restrictions on research and acquisition of new knowledge about the New Zealand marine area are of concern.

Note: The NZCA is a statutory body established by section 6A of the Conservation Act 1987 whose members are appointed by the Minister of Conservation on the nomination or recommendation of four specified bodies (4 members), after consultation with three specified Ministers of the Crown (5 members) and after the receipt of public nominations (4 members).

This process ensures that a wide range of perspectives contribute to the advice provided and decisions made by the NZCA. The functions of the NZCA are centred on policy and planning which impacts on the administration of conservation areas managed by the Department of Conservation, and on the investigation of any conservation matter it considers is of national importance. The NZCA has the power to advocate its interests at any public forum and in any statutory planning process.

The NZCA has placed a high priority on marine issues and in December 2000 adopted a series of principles that relate to governance, preservation and protection, and sustainable use of the marine environment. The NZCA Marine Principles are provided over page.
New Zealand Conservation Authority - Marine Principles

Governance

1. Protection of marine biodiversity and marine ecosystems and marine landforms unique to
New Zealand is a national and international responsibility.

2. The marine environment will be governed for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

3. The marine environment is viewed as a taonga – there for everybody and upon
which we rely, rather than as a resource base on which to create property rights.

4. Any allocation of rights to use marine resources will be based on robust and
appropriate, environmental research.

5. Decision-making will be informed by traditional knowledge of tangata whenua along with new sources of information and research.

6. Where there is insufficient information, the precautionary principle will apply.

Preservation and Protection

7. Priority for protection will be afforded to our unique indigenous flora and fauna.

8. Responsibilities to future generations requires that non-extractive values of the marine environment – intrinsic values, wildness values, spiritual values, ecosystem services
- are protected.

9. A spectrum of protection mechanisms will be employed to enable communities to be involved in the protection and preservation as well as the rehabilitation and use of marine ecosystems (e.g. taiapure, mahinga mataitai, reserves).

10. Representative, rare, and special marine ecosystems will be preserved in perpetuity as “no take” areas within the limit of the EEZ.

Sustainable Use

11. The marine environment will be sustainably managed in a way that maintains its potential for future generations.

12. The marine and terrestrial environments will be managed in an integrated way that recognises the complex inter-relationships of land, sea and atmosphere.

13. Rights to use the marine environment should be exercised in an ecologically sustainable manner.

14. Where finite resources are being used e.g. mining of finite resources, this is to be carried out in a manner that mitigates the adverse impacts of the activity on the marine environment.

ENDS

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