Greenpeace is applauding the Greens marine policy, released today, saying it sets a strong vision for healthy and thriving oceans.
Jessica Desmond, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace Aotearoa, says she’s pleased to see the Greens take a big picture approach to marine protection, and not shy away from the most pressing threats facing our blue backyard.
"This is an exciting policy that would give our oceans a chance to thrive again," she says.
"Scientists have been telling us for years that we must protect a third of the world’s oceans if we want to have healthy seas for the future. The Greens’ policy proposes this, and we’re happy to see them take into account key areas of biodiversity as part of that."
Desmond says it’s also encouraging to see plans to reform fisheries management, which so far has failed to preserve abundance and diversity in the sea.
"We’re happy to see a proposed ban on some of the most destructive methods of fishing, such as bottom trawling on seamounts. This is an essential move for any party serious about protecting the marine environment.
"Over 50,000 New Zealanders support such a ban on bottom trawling. This is a method that has well and truly lost social licence in Aotearoa, and it’s great to see the Greens recognise this.
"We need to look at how the whole ecosystem is affected by fishing. This isn’t just a matter of fish numbers, though they aren’t doing great either, it’s also about other species fishers interact with and habitats they disturb. It’s positive to see the Greens support a more ecosystem based approach for fisheries, and plans to do this in co-governance with iwi."
Desmond says the Greens’ intention to support the Global Oceans Treaty has international significance, adding that New Zealand’s leadership in this area would have a massive impact on the health of the world’s oceans.
"The oceans are vast and interconnected, and they are struggling. Protecting them is a responsibility we share with every other country on this planet. As a progressive and environmentally focused nation, New Zealand should be championing a strong version of this Treaty which can turn things around for the oceans."
The policy document also details plans to implement a 10 year moratorium on seabed mining, which Desmond says is the minimum we should expect.
"For almost a decade, environmental, community and iwi groups have been resisting a seabed mine off the Taranaki coast which would harm the oceans and the diverse array of life that finds a home there.
"It is imperative that at a time when the oceans are under greater threat than ever before, we do not open them up to more destructive industries like this one."
In criticising the policy, Desmond says her main concern is the lack of a clear timeframe to get cameras across the commercial fishing fleet, a programme that’s been delayed by successive governments.
"New Zealanders have been waiting for years to see cameras materialise. They are a vital part of protecting the oceans and regulating fishing, and we need to see a clear plan with a firm timeline for implementation. The oceans simply can’t afford to wait."