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NZ aims to improve oceans management

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister for the Environment
2 October 2015 Media Statement

NZ aims to improve oceans management

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith is to lead New Zealand’s delegation to the Our Oceans Conference in Valparaiso, Chile next week with the aim of improving the management of the world’s oceans.

“Oceans make up 72 per cent of the world, but only two per cent is in protected areas. The populations of marine life like fish and seabirds have halved over the past 40 years. The biggest problems are in the high seas beyond individual countries’ jurisdictions, making up about 70 per cent of the oceans, where we need strengthened institutions and rules to ensure the sustainability of fishing stocks and improved protection of marine life,” Dr Smith says.

The conference is being hosted by the Chilean government, with representation from the United States – led by Secretary of State John Kerry – as well as from 100 other countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific. New Zealand’s delegation includes Pacific Economic Development Ambassador Shane Jones, ocean law expert Bill Mansfield, and officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Environment. New Zealand environmental organisations are also attending.

“New Zealand’s ambition is to be a leader in oceans management. Our Quota Management System is recognised as being world’s best practice, and we have more certified sustainable fishing stocks than any other country. The EEZ law and the establishment of the EPA in 2012 ensures a robust process of environmental checks on mining and other activities in the ocean,” Dr Smith says.

“We are also setting the benchmark in ocean protection with our newly-announcement Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. The next challenge will be the update of our marine protection legislation.

“New Zealand successfully sponsored a United Nations resolution in June calling for new marine protection measures in the high seas. Countries like New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia have made significant contributions with new sanctuaries at the Kermadecs, Pitcairn Island, the north east United States islands and the Coral Sea. This is an opportunity to share experiences and to advance improved ocean sustainability and protection measures.”

Dr Smith will also be holding bilateral meetings in Chile on issues of earthquake resilience, air and water quality and protected areas management. He returns to New Zealand on 11 October.

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