Greens to protect Aotearoa’s oceans with marine sanctuaries, bottom trawling and set-netting restrictions, and action against plastic

The Green Party has released its Thriving Oceans Plan, which would dramatically increase marine protected areas and ban bottom trawling on seamounts. 

The Thriving Oceans Plan will:

  • Protect at least 30% of Aotearoa’s oceans by 2030, with new legislation to create a network of marine protected areas. The new legislation will recognise te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori customary and commercial fishing rights.
  • Ban the most harmful commercial fishing practices such as bottom trawling on seamounts and set-netting in the habitat of endangered seabirds and dolphins.
  • Review the Quota Management System (QMS), in partnership with Māori within a framework that upholds rights under te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  • Introduce comprehensive marine spatial planning to ensure a strategic approach is used to manage our marine spaces.
  • Restore the health and abundance of the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana/Te Moananui ā Toi by urgently phasing out the most ecologically harmful commercial fishing practices.
  • Invest up to $50 million to help fishers transition to more sustainable fishing methods.
  • Support robust and well-resourced monitoring and enforcement of fisheries and marine protection rules, and accelerate the implementation of cameras on boats.
  • Ensure less plastic ends up in our oceans by phasing out low quality, non-recyclable plastic, and ensuring higher value plastics are recovered and recycled on-shore in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Support local marine conservation efforts with $10m a year for a Community Coastline Clean-up Fund.
  • Introduce a 10-year moratorium on seabed mining
  • Work internationally to support the progress toward a Global Oceans Treaty.

Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today: 

“Oceans are the lifeblood of our planet and a home to thousands of taonga species, providing us with nourishing food to feed our families, supporting the livelihoods of millions, and vitally absorbing carbon emissions. 

“But our moana are under threat. Successive governments over decades have exploited our oceans for short-term economic gain. Overfishing, sediment pollution and seabed mining have put these precious places at risk.

“We are already seeing the impacts up and down our coast. Fisheries such as crayfish in the Hauraki Gulf have collapsed and the East Coast tarakihi fishery has been overfished and much depleted.

“Our Thriving Oceans Plan is the boldest vision for the protection of our oceans that this country has seen from a political party in decades.

“Marine protected areas are one of the best tools we have to protect our oceans. By establishing a much wider network of these areas, we can ensure marine habitats thrive and fisheries can replenish.

“Set-nets and bottom trawling on seamounts have major impacts on the marine environment. Set-nets cause unacceptable levels of bycatch of dolphins and seabirds, and bottom impact methods effectively “plough up” the seabed destroying precious habitats. This is why we will place much stronger restrictions on their use, and ban bottom trawling on seamounts. 

“Phasing out the most destructive commercial fishing practices in the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana/Te Moananui ā Toi, zoning large areas for active management and protection, and investing $10m in restoring the Gulf’s shellfish beds, will help restore the Hauraki Gulf back to health.

“Our Thriving Oceans Plan also recognises that we must support fishers to transition to sustainable practices. To do this, we will invest up to $50 million to help fishers transition away from harmful methods.

“The Green Party recognises the customary right of Māori to gather kaimoana and also that Māori have commercial fishing rights under te Tiriti o Waitangi, and so we will work alongside hapū and iwi in developing these tools, to ensure the moana is protected while still upholding te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“Here in Aotearoa we love our big blue backyard. If we think ahead, we can protect this precious taonga for generations to come.”

The Green Party affirms Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the tino rangatiratanga of iwi and hapū over all their taonga including oceans. We will work alongside hapū and iwi in developing these tools, to ensure the moana is protected while still upholding te Tiriti o Waitangi.

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