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Environmental Report Highlights Importance Of Government Actions

Hon David Parker

Minister for the Environment

Minister for Oceans and Fisheries

The Our Marine Environment 2022 report, released today, underscores the need for this Government’s moves to cut plastic waste, improve water quality in our rivers and lakes, reduce sedimentation, and address climate change.

“The report is right to say it paints a sobering picture. Our Government is already taking action to address the range of pressures on the marine environment,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

The report presented a mixed picture, with some indicators improving.

”Water quality in coastal areas seems to be improving, with some areas showing reductions in the level of nutrients that can lead to harmful algal blooms,” David Parker said.

“While improvements will take time, we expect these positive trends to continue as local councils implement the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management, which we introduced in 2020.”

The report, prepared by the Environment Ministry and Stats NZ independently of Ministers, is the latest in a series of reports on aspects of the environment.

It is also a timely reminder that the marine environment is on the receiving end of what happens in the wider environment and to our climate.

“Our Emissions Reduction Plan is contributing to global efforts to limit temperature rise, while our National Adaptation Plan sets out how Aotearoa New Zealand can adapt and build resilience to the impacts on our marine environment,” David Parker said.

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The report notes that plastic is the most common type of litter found on our beaches, increasing from 64 per cent of items in 2019 to 70 per cent in 2021.

“This highlights the ongoing importance of dealing with problem plastics,” David Parker said.

“The 2019 single-use plastic bag ban has meant over a billion fewer plastic bags ended up in landfills or the ocean. We’re now focused on the phase out of more problematic plastic to remove more than two billion items every year.”

The first projects funded by the $50 million Plastics Innovation Fund have been announced. They will help reduce waste and find innovative replacements for some plastic items.

Other government initiatives to enhance and protect the environment include Jobs for Nature, which has seen thousands of people employed in nature-based jobs that give them new skills while benefiting their communities and our land, water and coastlines.

“The Fisheries Amendment Bill, now before Parliament, will help ensure a more sustainable fishing future by reducing by-catch and increasing the use of cameras on fishing boats,” David Parker said.

“The Government is taking decisive action across a range of programmes and initiatives that help protect and improve the marine environment,” David Parker said.

Editors’ notes:

Government measures are being taken across agencies to help protect and improve our marine environment. The work is undertaken together with local government, iwi, industry and other community groups and stakeholders.

They include:

· The Emissions Reduction Plan contributes to global efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

· Te Mana o te Taio - The Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy sets a strategic direction for protecting, restoring and sustainably using biodiversity for the next 30 years.

· The Fisheries Amendment Bill aims to minimise by-catch and ensure a sustainable fishing future.

· Jobs for Nature projects that have benefited the marine environment include:

o Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme to improve the Kaipara Harbour.

o Mahurangi East Land Restoration programme to reduce sediment entering the Mahurangi River and Harbour.

o The Hokianga Catchment Restoration Project, which includes on-the-ground work to improve the health of the freshwater catchments and hence the health of the Hokianga Harbour and the community that relies on it.

o The Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust funding which helps monitoring and conservation work for the recovery of hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins, as well as pest control and fencing around hoiho habitat.

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