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02, Jul, 2008

More needed on Oceans Policy


Category: ECO Inc

The Environment and Conservation Organisations has welcomed the emergence of proposed legislation after a 5 year hiatus on the Oceans Policy.

ECO spokesperson, Cath Wallace, said ECO is pleased to see policy for legislation finally emerge, and the environmental principles are good but the purpose is confused and will not properly manage activities.

“ECO is pleased to see some measures for oceans but this is well short of the proposed Oceans Policy that was promised in 2001. Fishing does most of the damage yet fishing is exempt from this new policy.

“This legislation is a gap filler that does not tackle the most urgent harms. It only covers the sea from 12 to 200 nautical miles offshore and proposed extension of the continental shelf further off, not inside 12 nautical miles.”

The Oceans Policy and proposed legislation and administrative arrangements were discussed at ECO’s Annual Conference in Wellington over the weekend. ECO listened to the proposals by the Minister for the Environment, Hon Trevor Mallard, and National’s position from Nick Smith.

Ms Wallace said ECO had long been an advocate for comprehensive oceans policy and back in 1998 organised the successful Seaviews Conference.

“This legislation will reduce the unregulated “wild-west” that currently exists for offshore mining.”

Ms Wallace said two companies Nautilus and Neptune have applied for mineral permits covering large areas in the Bay of Plenty and the area up to and around the Kermadec Islands.

The environmental principles of the law are good but the purpose of the policy is confused and will fatally weaken attempts to protect the marine environment.

These applications are occurring under a current regime which has no environmental assessment requirements, no public participation arrangements, and no management planning framework

ECO hopes that whichever Government is elected at the end of the year will place a priority on protection of the marine environment in the proposed legislation.

For further information contact: Cath Wallace 021-891-994 or Barry Weeber 021-738-807.

Notes:

  1. ECO – the Environment and Conservation Organisations was established in 1972 and represents 61 groups with a concern for the environment.
  2. Neptune Resources has three mineral exploration permits covering 63,000 sq km and it has applied for further another three permits covering 85,000 sq km. All are along the Kermadec Ridge between the Bay of Plenty and Kermadec Islands or on the parallel Colville Ridge. Both areas covering a range of seamount features which have been globally recognised as vulnerable marine ecosystems at risk from bottom trawling.
  3. Nautilus Minerals has applied for permits covering over 48,200 sq. km.east of the Kermadec Islands and south to the Bay of Plenty.