The Green Party is today welcoming the Government’s announcement that there will be six new marine reserves on the South East Otago coast.
“This is a wonderful step forward and shows what can happen when the government, community and iwi work together for the health of the moana. We particularly acknowledge Kāi Tahu for their leadership and role as kaitiaki of this coastline and in managing the new marine reserves,” says Green Party oceans and fisheries spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“The Greens also acknowledge the massive mahi of the South-East Marine Protection Forum which recommended this network of marine reserves. It is disappointing that the Forum’s recommendation for five additional Type 2 marine protected areas with restrictions on fishing have not been finalised.
“The Green Party has been consistent in calling for action to protect marine life, habitats and ecosystems for years. What the Government has announced today is good progress but we need to be much more ambitious.
“Last year, the Government signed up to a target of protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030. The Green Party would make sure this is achieved by putting the target into law.
“Our proposed Healthy Ocean Act commits to protecting 30% of our oceans by 2030 through a new framework that upholds Te Tiriti, and turns around our dismal record of protecting only 0.4% of the seas around New Zealand.
“It has been a decade since the South-East Marine Protection Forum was established. The time it has taken to create these new reserves shows the need to overhaul the Marine Reserves Act to create better and more timely ways to protect the ocean.
“The Green Party’s plan to establish a network of marine protected areas will help Aotearoa implement the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and meet our international commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“Tackling climate change and protecting our oceans also go hand in hand. Warmer and prolonged marine heatwaves contribute to mortality events for marine life. The oceans have absorbed most of the excess heat and carbon from burning fossil fuels, and play a big role in regulating the climate.
“The Green Party will make it a top priority in negotiations to have a Green Minister for Oceans and Fisheries at the Cabinet table, so we can give this the urgency it deserves,” says Eugenie Sage.