35.5% of Maui’s dolphin sanctuary opened up for oil drilling

The Government’s decision to allow oil drilling in 35.5 percent of the North Island Maui’s dolphin sanctuary, as well as along the shores of picturesque Lake Te Anau and close to Fiordland National Park, creates major risks for New Zealand’s clean and green tourism brand, the Green Party said today.

“There are only 63 Maui’s Dolphins alive and drilling for oil and gas in the area that’s supposed to be their sanctuary puts every one of them at risk,” said Green Party energy and resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“This is the largest amount of the Maui’s dolphin sanctuary ever opened up for oil and gas exploration, ironically at a time when oil companies are giving up on exploring in New Zealand.

“Tourists visiting beautiful Lake Te Anau and on their way into Milford Sound would be horrified by Energy Minister Judith Collins’ decision to allow fossil fuel exploration in this part of the country.

“We could see oil rigs along the shores of Lake Te Anau and within 2 km of the Fiordland National Park.

“Yesterday the Government revealed it was facing a $800-855 million liability for decommissioning old oil rigs and today it’s opening up new areas for oil exploration and drilling.

“National’s priorities are all backwards. We should be backing local companies to become world leaders in clean energy technology, not bending over backwards to try and attract overseas oil companies to New Zealand,” Mr Hughes said.

Note: calculations by the Parliamentary Library show that the combined total area of potential and current oil and gas exploration and drilling in the 11,953 sq km West Coast Marine Mammal Sanctuary is 4,242 sq km. This is comprised of three existing permits in the sanctuary totalling 597.2 sq km plus 3,645 sq km of currently unpermitted sea being made available. The Block Offer also includes 53 sq km of Department of Conservation stewardship land in Southland.

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