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WWF-New Zealand Reviews Green Party's Ocean Policies

Today the Green Party announced their “Thriving Oceans Plan” to highlight their Ocean policies to build a thriving ocean.

Every single life on our planet is dependent on the ocean. It’s one of the world’s greatest resources. It produces food and oxygen, regulates our climate and supports the lives, and livelihoods, of every single person on Earth.

“Aotearoa is kaitiaki of the 4th largest EEZ in the world, that’s 15x the size of our land. We currently protect 30% of our lands, but only fully protect 0.04% of our ocean. For decades, efforts to create ocean policy to restore ocean health has been abysmal,” says Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand CEO.

WWF-New Zealand has long advocated for a healthy, resilient ocean and is currently running a targeted campaign to place our ocean on the electoral agenda. We welcome this acknowledgement from the Green Party. We look forward to the other political parties laying out their ocean policies to help ensure a thriving and resilient ocean for future generations.

Overall, like many other parties, the Green Party’s ocean policies broadly align with many of WWF’s ocean policy positions. In the end, we know, it is one thing to have a plan. This plan looks good on paper, however, we need more than a plan. Effective results will only come through strong leadership, true partnership with tangata whenua, and urgent action.

“As we heard at our ocean forum on Thursday, The COVID crisis has show that when Aotearoa is called upon to make difficult and monumental changes, we can do this quickly. We need to use this same sense of urgency with our ocean. We already have collapsing fish stocks, unswimmable beaches, and are destroying ecosystems at a rapid pace. We cannot continue to make excuses or delay. This next government, whoever it may be, must stand up for our ocean,” says Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand CEO.

“Our ocean forum also showed our political parties (Greens, Labour, Māori, National, and TOP) agree on far more than they disagree. It was heartening to see they all believe we need better policy and greater action to protect our moana for our future. We saw cross-party support for climate change last year, now they must do the same for our ocean.”

WWF-New Zealand has 10 policy positions as part of our ocean campaign. Many of these asks are reflected within the Green Party’s plan, here is our assessment of their plan:

“Protect at least 30% of Aotearoa’s oceans by 2030”: WWF is pleased the Greens have adopted the policy we have been advocating for many years. It is important they have acknowledged this needs to recognise Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This should be done in true partnership with tangata whenua. (see here to see how other parties feel on this issue) While they supported WWF’s call to protect Rangitāhua in our ocean campaign, we are sad to see the glaring omission from this policy regarding some of our unique ecological habitats including, Rangitāhua/Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary and Motu Ihupuku/Campbell Island.

“Begin to develop a new way of managing fisheries based on holistic ecosystem management”: WWF advocates for ecosystem based management and ensuring our fisheries management allows for abundance and resilience against climate change impacts.

“Introduce comprehensive marine spatial planning”: WWF supports marine spatial planning. It is important that marine protection and conservation goals are an integral part of the planning process. Protecting 30% of our marine habitats should be a bottom-line in the planning process along with other conservation goals.

“Ban the most harmful commercial fishing practices”: WWF is strongly supportive of banning bottom trawling on seamounts but there are other vulnerable marine ecosystems that also need to be protected from this destructive practice. WWF has always supported the removal of set-netting from the habitats of vulnerable marine species. We must also ensure marine mammal sanctuaries are protected from seismic surveying which is not clearly stated in this plan.

Restore the health and abundance of the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana/Te Moananui a Toi”: WWF thinks restoring the health and abundance of this critical part of our environment is absolutely essential. This area has suffered significant losses. Crayfish and snapper have all but disappeared. In many areas, kina have taken over and the seabed is suffocating under sediment and plastic because of increased run-off, poor land use practices, and the overharvesting of fish. This has left many local beaches unsafe for swimming and locals unable to catch a fish. In order to restore the gulf, it needs a cross-sectoral concerted effort between government, fishers, community groups, iwi/hapū/ whānau, agriculture, and industry. Implementing new marine protected areas in the Hauraki Gulf should be a priority.

“Invest up to $50 million to help fishers transition”: WWF believes in people living in harmony with nature. Helping fishers transition to safer, more sustainable methods will help the environment and communities thrive, however we are unsure $50 million will go far enough to ensure a just transition.

“Support robust and well-resourced monitoring and enforcement of fisheries”: WWF believes in order to achieve sustainable fisheries, we must also have transparency, accountability, and sufficient data to better manage stocks for abundance and resilience. This can be achieved through cameras on boats, traceability, and other effective monitoring tools. We support the proposal for increasing research dollars, particularly for a greater number of stock and ecosystem assessments.

“Ensure less plastic ends up in our oceans”: WWF science shows that people consume nearly a credit card of plastic a week and plastics have reached the greatest depths of our ocean. Any efforts to reduce the amount of plastic entering our environment is welcome. This not only will protect humans but also our precious taonga species.

“Support local marine conservation effort”: WWF currently supports community conservation projects across the country. We believe community and indigenous led efforts are essential to achieve protected and well managed coastal ecosystems and are pleased to see a financial commitment to support these efforts.

“Global Oceans Treaty”: New Zealand needs to show greater leadership in international fora such as, negotiations on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) and CBD negotiations for a new global biodiversity framework.

About WWF-New Zealand Ocean Campaign:

On Monday 31 August, WWF-New Zealand launched a new digital campaign, demanding our political leaders finally make ocean health an election issue - a joint call with the voices of marine and climate scientists, Māori leaders, young ocean activists, and many other New Zealanders. Less than 1% of Aotearoa’s coastal and marine area is fully protected. 80% of New Zealanders - including 91% of our youth, and 88% of Māori – agree that we must do more.

The campaign calls for:

Effective protection of one third of our coastal and marine area

Transparent and sustainable fisheries

Protection of our threatened and endangered marine species.

To join the call, sign up here: https://www.wwf.org.nz/take_action/stand_for_our_ocean/

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