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Marine Reserves Need To Be Put On Hold

MEDIA RELEASE
10 December 2001

Marine Reserves Need To Be Put On Hold

No new marine reserves should be created until the Government’s proposed Oceans Policy has been completed, the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (Te Ohu Kai Moana) says.

Forest and Bird’s call for 20 percent of our inshore waters to be protected by “marine reserves” is disingenuous and badly thought out, the chief executive of Te Ohu Kai Moana, Robin Hapi, says.

“Simplistic slogans followed by simplistic measures won’t bring about sensible progress. They make great ‘soundbites’ but in reality misinform the wider community about how to achieve a sustainable future.”

“We don’t argue with the underlying premise of sustainable use from healthy seas – Maori have practised this for generations. But you can’t say, ‘Let’s lock up a fifth of this country’s inshore fishery away from everyone, including rights holders such as Maori and commercial and recreational fishers, because we love marine reserves’. The logic behind such a call is flawed and ignores the large amount of scientific effort that goes into managing our fisheries by not only the Ministry, but commercial and Iwi fisheries managers as well,” Mr Hapi said.

Te Ohu Kai Moana believes marine reserves on their own will only cause economic damage to our fourth largest industry and won’t significantly change the environmental performance that Forest and Bird claims the reserves are needed for.

Mr Hapi said Te Ohu Kai Moana has been calling for an intelligent approach to protecting marine ecosystems. In its submission to the Government’s review of marine reserves a year ago, Te Ohu Kai Moana said such a review needed to be put on hold until the Government’s Oceans Policy has been completed.

“This is even more important now with the threat of a moratorium looming over new applications for water space. If there’s a two-year moratorium on water space, there should be no consideration of new marine reserves at least until that threat is removed.”

Mr Hapi said it needed to be remembered that aquaculture (fish farming), for example, has been predicted to make up around 40 percent of New Zealand’s export fisheries market by 2020, creating hundreds of jobs and keeping New Zealand at the forefront of a global industry.

“The fishing industry currently provides employment directly and indirectly for more than 26,000 families in this country. That number is set to grow.”

(more to come)
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He said there is no scientific basis to call for 20 percent of New Zealand’s waters to be made reserves. “To lock up areas without knowing what is there and whether it is under threat, and even whether a reserve is the best way to help, is reckless when you propose to deny New Zealanders’ livelihood and culture.”

Te Ohu Kai Moana also called for Government, industry, recreational fishers and environmental groups to jointly undertake work to identify marine ecological domains, whether any threats are emerging as significant enough to warrant locking away such a large amount of water space, or whether there are other less intrusive measures that achieve the agree outcomes.

Mr Hapi said: “This would be a constructive, intelligent way forward, taking advantage of the time we’ve got to all get involved in solutions across our entire coastal waters rather than proposing divisive mechanisms like marine reserves.”

ENDS

For more information, contact Te Ohu Kai Moana Communications
Glenn Hema Inwood, 021 498 010


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