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Oceans Policy process launched

Thursday, 12 October 2000 Media Statement

Oceans Policy process launched

The development of an Oceans Policy will be as significant for New Zealand as the resource management law reform process that began under the last Labour government, Pete Hodgson said today.

Mr Hodgson, who is leading a committee of ministers responsible for the policy, launched the first stage of the development process today.

A ministerial advisory committee of up to five people will be appointed to run a public consultation process running for most of next year. Nominations for the committee close in November.

Mr Hodgson said there were currently at least 18 pieces of domestic legislation and fourteen departments of state involved in managing the marine environment. But there was no overall policy framework to ensure they worked together consistently, towards agreed goals.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report "Setting Course for a Sustainable Future", presented to Parliament early this year, recommended the development of an Oceans Policy to integrate management of the marine environment.

"Ecological strains have begun to show in our oceans and conflicts in their use are erupting more and more frequently," Mr Hodgson said. "If there is one simple reason why an Oceans Policy is a good idea, it is that those strains and conflicts are certain to increase."

Examples of the limitations of existing policy and law included conflicts over marine reserves, undersea cables, marine farming and tourism, Mr Hodgson said. Future conflicts would increase with population and economic growth and the development of new activities like undersea mining, bioprospecting and wave energy generation.

Mr Hodgson said the Oceans Policy process would not necessarily produce a single piece of legislation, as the resource management law reform process did. The Government was not setting out with such a predetermined outcome in mind.

The result could be a combination of policy and legislative initiatives.

But Mr Hodgson warned that the development of the Oceans Policy had the potential to affect the rights of all users of the marine environment.

"This will not be easy. It is a challenge to all users of our oceans to make some hard choices about what's really important and what responsibility they are prepared to accept for the greater good."


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