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National Shame for sinking Blue-Green vision

29 July 2009

National Shame for sinking Blue-Green vision

The National Party rejected its own Bluegreen vision today when it refused to support a Bill designed to ensure our marine animal protection laws work properly, said the Green Party tonight.

“National’s Bluegreens will hang their heads in shame – their MPs have condemned marine animals to inevitable extinction,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“All I asked of National was to let my Bill through to select committee so the public, the industry and scientists could have their say on what tweaks to our marine protection laws are required to make them work as intended.”

The Marine Animals Protection Law Reform Bill was drawn from the Members' ballot a month ago, and was voted down at its first reading tonight. The National Party voted against it.

“The National Party has today broken election promises to ensure the recovery of Hector’s and Maui dolphins,” said Mrs Turei.

Before the 2008 election National committed that, “Further deterioration in [Hectors and Maui] populations must be halted…. If it is a choice between fishers’ rights and dolphins’ survival, the dolphins must come first."

“National’s callous disregard to the plight of our iconic species that are sliding towards extinction under the current law is unfathomable," said Mrs Turei.

“National seems so blinded by ideology that they are happy to see dolphins and albatrosses go extinct in the name of reducing compliance cost.”

The Marine Mammals Protection Act 1974 allows for population management plans to ensure endangered species survive, but not one plan exists. Mrs Turei said, “The Bill would have clarified the law to ensure these tools were used”.

“Instead of clear plans to protect marine animals, we have Maui dolphins reduced to just 111, fairy terns with just 10 breeding pairs, and 31% fewer sea lions were born this season."

New Zealand waters are home to half the world’s whales, dolphins and albatrosses – and is known as the “seabird capital of the world”. Many marine animals, such as the NZ sea lion, exist only in our waters.

Today, a landmark new study published in the international journal Conservation Biology stated that an extinction crisis looms in Oceania, and urged governments to act urgently to address the causes of species extinctions across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. The authors were particularly concerned about the impacts of fisheries and the effects of by-catch.

“I am dismayed that the Prime Minister oppose this crucial Bill, when our marine tourism industry generates over $100 million a year, and our overseas markets are beginning to refuse to stock our fish because they fail sustainability standards,” said Mrs Turei.

References:
Mrs Turei’s speech: http://www.greens.org.nz/node/21553
National Party promise: http://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/2008/10/17/10-science-questions-for-john-key/
Pictures of marine animals: http://www.greens.org.nz/node/21552
The Bill: http://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/MarineAnimalsBill.pdf

ENDS

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