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Thriving Oceans: Speech by Marama Davidson

Ko au te moana, ko te moana ko au.

I am the sea. The sea is me.

Kia ora koutou katoa.

Our moana is a taonga. Take care of our oceans and the oceans will take care of us.

They are the lifeblood of our planet.

A home to thousands of precious species, a source of kai, and a huge carbon sink for

the world’s emissions.

But beyond that – the ocean is a place many of us, hold personally dear.

I come from endless generations of ancestors who like me, grew up in the bosom of the Hokianga harbour. The vast ocean at the mouth of Hokianga moana continues to be a place of belonging for my own children and mokopuna.

Right now we are standing on Ngāti Whātua whenua looking over the Waitematā harbour. I acknowledge all the mana whenua connections to this land and this moana and the aspirations of hapū and iwi to restore it.

For many of us, COVID-19 was the first chance in a while to slow down and appreciate nature.

We hit pause, took a breath of fresh air, and at the same time, reflected on the dangerous toll our actions can have.

We all have kaitiaki responsibilities over the wellbeing of our oceans – a duty to care for them, so they can continue to care for us.

I want my tamariki, and their tamariki, to be able to enjoy this precious taonga.

To explore rock pools and get up close to the precious creatures which call them home.

To hear seabirds soaring overhead.

To have oceans with thriving kelp forests, providing a home to thousands of marine species.

And to be able to collect kai, sustainably, and with respect to the sensitive ecosystems at play.

We can achieve that vision for future generations.

But only if we make big changes, now.

Overfishing, pollution, and mining are degrading our moana, with successive governments exploiting their finite resources for short-term economic gain.

In Aotearoa and around the world, our oceans - and the thousands of species which call them home - are facing the biggest-ever threat to their survival.

And if our moana is at risk – so are we.

If we do not change our course, we are on track to a future of oceans so polluted they cannot sustain life.

Extinct species, a crumbling ecosystem, and oceans not clean enough to swim in, or gather kai from.

It is not too late for us to turn this around.

To ensure our moana are protected for future generations.

As we respond to COVID-19, we know that returning to the status-quo isn’t an option.

The risk is too high to people and the planet.

Today, I am unveiling the Green Party’s Thriving Ocean Plan.

To make them more resilient and protect them from future threats.

The Green Party will protect a third of Aotearoa’s oceans within Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

This new network of protected areas would turn our most at-risk areas into protected sanctuaries.

We must also end the most harmful practices, which endanger our oceans and precious taonga species through by-catch.

The use of set-nets, and bottom-trawling kills unacceptable levels of penguins, dolphins and seabirds through by-catch.

And destroys ecosystems.

Because of this, the Green Party will bring in strict restrictions on the use of set-nets and ban bottom trawling on seamounts.

Our plan also protects our oceans from plastic pollution by phasing out low quality, non-recyclable plastic, and ensuring higher value plastics are recovered and recycled on-shore in Aotearoa New Zealand.

On top of these new protections, we will also look to review the Quota Management System.

The scope of this review would be developed in partnership with Māori, under a kaitiaki framework which upholds te Tiriti and Māori commercial fisheries rights.

The Green Party affirms Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the tino rangatiratanga of hapū and iwi over all their taonga including oceans. We will work alongside hapū and iwi in developing these tools, to ensure the moana is protected.

The Green Party also recognises that we must support those who rely on the ocean for their livelihood, to continue to do so, but in a sustainable way.

We will invest up to $50 million to help fishers transition to better methods which don’t harm the environment, and to support the development of fisheries fit for the 21st century.

And at the same time, we’ll step-up enforcement of the rules, with well-resourced monitoring systems including speeding up getting cameras on commercial fishing boats.

We know local communities also want to do their bit in cleaning up the coastline. So to help them do that, we’ll establish a $30 million fund over three years to support their efforts.

And – because we know that Aotearoa cannot solve our ocean crisis in isolation – we will continue to work towards a Global Oceans Treaty.

Our Thriving Ocean Plan is the boldest protection for moana that this country has seen from a political party in decades.

Thriving nature, including our oceans, is achievable.

We have the tools, the expertise, and the incentive, in that our window for action is closing.

If we think ahead, in 20 years’ time, we can have oceans which provide kaimoana for us, and to share with the world.

Which protects the ecosystems.

And which can still be enjoyed by future generations.

It is all of our job to protect our oceans.

And with your support, if we all think ahead, we can make that happen.

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