Govt failing our oceans

Government progress to protect the health of our oceans is unacceptably slow, the Green Party says.

Our Marine Environment 2022 released today shows how ocean health is deteriorating as a result of plastic pollution, climate change and dirty fishing practices. 

“The health of our oceans is declining and the Government is not doing enough to protect it. We need more Green Party policies and interventions to help the ocean heal,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for oceans and fisheries, Eugenie Sage. 

Our Marine Environment 2022 shows:

  • Governments have known for more than 20 years the harm caused by bottom trawling, and yet Minister Parker and MPI are bogged down in discussions about whether to stop it happening
  • Microplastics are found in three of every four fish caught for commercial purposes 
  • More than 4,100 seabirds were killed by longline fisheries in a single year. Right now, 90 percent of indigenous seabirds are threatened or at risk of extinction 
  • Warmer and more acidic oceans are becoming uninhabitable for taonga species and impacting kai moana

“The report tells a decades-long story of government neglect when it comes to the health of our oceans. 

“Successive governments have allowed big industry to exploit our oceans for short-term economic gain. This has led to overfishing, trawling of the seafloor, excessive plastic pollution, and dirty fishing practices killing birds and other marine species. 

“Worse still, the report’s over reliance on old data shows that government-after-government has known for decades the harm being done to our oceans. Had these warnings been heeded at any point in the last two decades, the health of our oceans would be very different.  We’d be better off in numerous ways. But, as this report makes clear, that is not what has happened. 

“In one startling example, the report’s use of old data shows that governments have known for years the damage being done to seamounts. And yet, here we are, with the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries convening a working group with the fishing industry to decide whether we should do anything about bottom trawling, which we know damages them. 

“We are not even sure that the report is telling the full story. For example, data showing that the area of the ocean that has been trawled is decreasing disguises the fact that new areas are being bottom trawled. 

“In other words, the fishing industry may well be causing so much harm to one area of the ocean that they are simply moving to another to continue. These precious ecosystems will take centuries to recover – if at all.

“The health of our oceans is deteriorating at an alarming rate and we’re at risk of losing precious habitats forever. Politicians have known about this for decades and many have had a chance to stop it. But they haven’t - which is exactly why we need to let the handbrake go and take urgent and collective action.

“We need to stop the dirty and degrading fishing practices that are destroying the seafloor and killing seabirds; we need to continue work to ban single-use plastics and stop plastics getting in the ocean; we need a moratorium on seabed mining; and we need to protect a much larger area of the ocean and put clear rules in place for where commercial operators can and cannot fish. 

“The Green Party has a transformative plan to protect the oceans and improve fisheries management, so we all can enjoy the ocean - now and in the future. But to make it happen, we need more Green MPs around the decision-making table,” says Eugenie Sage.  

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