13, Jan, 2016

Flawed and Unambitious Marine Protected Area Proposals

Category: ECO Inc

ECO today challenged the Government to think again on its flawed marine protection proposals which fail to cover the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and will weaken protections.

ECO spokesperson Barry Weeber said the Government’s MPA proposals weaken protection of whales and dolphins, and will leave New Zealand well behind arrangements in Australia which provide for significant protection in their EEZ.

“The Government’s failure to include protection mechanisms for the EEZ from 12 to 200 nautical miles offshore and the continental shelf was a major step back from previous Government proposals and from international norms.”

“This is no New Year’s present for the marine environment.”

Mr Weeber said the proposals will undermine protection of whales and dolphins as it would restrict marine mammal sanctuaries to territorial sea, the 12 mile limit.  Now they can cover any area in the EEZ.

“Current law allow marine mammals sanctuaries to be created to cover any part of the EEZ.”

Mr Weeber said it had been recognised for over 20 years that the marine reserves legislation should be extended to cover the EEZ.  “This was included in legislation first introduced to Parliament over 12 years ago.”

“What we need is much stronger legislation which steps up to protect the ocean ecosystem.”

Mr Weeber said as proposed Marine reserves will not be able to play a significant role in protecting our marine biodiversity.

“The absence of a clear policy and legislative framework for marine protection in the EEZ and continental shelf will just result in loss of biodiversity and greater resource conflict.”

Mr Weeber said the policy was lacking in much detail on the implementation of proposals which will make it difficult for submitters to respond.

The Ministry for the Environment clearly needed to do more work on these policy elements before the proposal was released.”

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1.         ECO is an organisation of about 50 member organisations with a shared concern for the environment and conservation.  Established in 1972 after a late 1971 meeting of many different organisations, ECO comprises both environmental and conservation organisations, and other organisations who share the concern, but may have other purposes as well.  Such other organisations include recreational and professional organisations and the National Council of Women.  Our organisations may be location-based, species based, or activity or concern based.  ECO also has Friends of ECO, largely individuals. 

2.         The Marine Mammal Protection Act allows marine sanctuaries to be created in the EEZ or territorial sea.

3.         The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) runs between 12 and 200 nautical miles offshore.  The Territorial Sea runs from the coast to 12 nautical miles offshore.

4.         The Marine Reserves Act is currently limited to any area within the territorial sea.

5.         Overall the Marine Protected Areas legislation should be designed to:

  • Protect the full range of marine habitats and ecosystems

  • Protect biodiversity in all its forms;

  • Be of sufficient size to habitats and allow for environmental change;

  • Protect areas of international and national importance;

  • Protect vulnerable areas and threatened species;

  • Protect areas of high diversity;

  • Include spawning grounds and breeding grounds;

  • Include areas of vulnerable habitats and life stages;

  • Include unique and rare habitats;

  • Include areas of scientific value;

  • Replicated for insurance against environmental change;

  • Consider the effects of movement of species including juvenile and adults;

  • Include sufficiently large reserves to reduce edge effects and increase the habitats include in a unit.

  • Consider connectivity between reserves.

6.         The proposals are unclear about many activities that occur in the marine environment or are currently controlled by the protection mechanisms that are proposed to change.  These include:

  • Marine discharges;

  • Ports and marinas;

  • Renewable energy generation sites;

  • Harbour dredging and spoil disposal sites;

  • Aquaculture activity;

  • Large impact scientific research;

  • Bottom trawling, bottom pair trawling, dredging, and Danish Seining;

  • Bulk fishing methods (such as purse seining, Danish seining, mid-water trawling, mid-water gillnetting and benthic netting).


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