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07, Jun, 2010

Leading conservation groups unite on World Oceans Day


Category: ECO Inc

On World Oceans Day tomorrow (June 8) New Zealand’s leading independent conservation groups are meeting to work on the current unprecedented threats to our marine environment and natural resources.

The groups include Forest & Bird, Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and ECO (Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa).

They are concerned about a series of alarming new proposals that threaten to drastically undermine our international reputation and could cause considerable damage to our ocean environments, our natural public resources and our threatened wildlife.

Concerns include:

  • The fishing industry’s ‘managing our own ship’ proposal, in which the industry would take more control of regulating their own fishing, fisheries science and compliance monitoring.
  • Greater official fishing industry influence on Ministry of Fisheries management.
  • The lack of legal tools to protect our offshore marine environment from inappropriate exploration, oil spills and other pollution accidents.
  • Increased support for marine mineral exploration. This includes a new five-year permit being granted to International oil giant Petrobras – a company with a very poor environmental reputation – to drill for oil off the North Island's East Cape.
  • The revelation by Dr John McKoy of NIWA in March that commercial fishing limits are essentially guesswork and "highly susceptible to influence".
  • That just 0.3% of New Zealand’s marine environment is protected in marine reserves, compared with more than 30% of our land area that is protected.
  • Ongoing fishing related deaths of our threatened marine wildlife, including endangered Hector’s dolphins, declining New Zealand sea lions, threatened albatross species and the ongoing legal practice of shark finning.
  • Recent changes to aquaculture legislation resulting in a gold rush for coastal space.

Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles says: “Our oceans are facing unprecedented threats. In the drive for economic expansion, the fishing industry is focussing on short-term profits and ignoring the declining health of our marine environment, which underpins their industry.”

Greenpeace Oceans spokesperson Karli Thomas says: "More and more companies in the seafood supply chain are saying no thanks to unsustainable fish. The global sustainability movement is not going away, and if our fishing industry is to stay afloat it needs to move away from destructive fishing practices like bottom trawling, and overfished species like orange roughy."

WWF Marine Programme Manager Rebecca Bird says: “New Zealand's marine environment is ranked by WWF globally as one of the most significant areas of biodiversity on the planet, around half of the species in our oceans are unique to New Zealand. The lack of regulation on activities in our EEZ mean New Zealand's oceans are currently wide open for industrial exploitation such as prospecting for oil and gas without consideration of environmental risks. The government is putting economics ahead of the environment by granting exploration and prospecting permits without having put in place legislation to regulate the environmental effects and risks associated with such activities.

ECO Co-Chair Cath Wallace says: “The Government needs to bring in a modern Oceans policy and a legislative system that is ecosystem based to manage the marine environment from 12 to 200 nm offshore. Given these areas include public resources, the public must be included in marine management decision-making.”

Contacts:

Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles,

Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas, 021 905 582

WWF Senior Marine Campaigner Rebecca Bird, 027 212 3121

ECO Co-Chair Cath Wallace, 021 891 994