The Green Party is today welcoming long overdue protection for the Hauraki Gulf - but is calling on the Government to make sure this is a first step of many to protect our oceans.
“The Green Party welcomes today’s announcement to extend two existing marine reserves and establish 12 new marine protected areas in the Hauraki Gulf - but more urgency is needed,” says Green Party oceans and fisheries spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“Tīkapa Moana/Te Moanaui ā Toi/the Hauraki Gulf supports the wellbeing of more than 1.5 million people across Tāmaki Makaurau.
“For decades, successive governments have allowed overfishing, sediment pollution, and destructive fishing practices to degrade the health of the Gulf, despite repeated calls and pressure from the community and mana whenua for change.
“Urgent action is needed if we are to have an Hauraki Gulf that is healthy, vibrant with life, has a strong mauri and supports abundant fish, seabirds, and other marine life
“Our biggest disappointment is that this has come so late in the term. It is good to see a commitment to introduce legislation to establish these new protected areas, but very disappointing it won’t become law before the election.
“Three years ago, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Sea Change raised concerns about a lack of urgency. This didn’t need to wait until the last few weeks of the Parliamentary term.
“The proposed consultation on bottom trawling is yet another unnecessary delay in improving fisheries management and the health of the Gulf. The public have made their views clear.
“People want bottom trawling stopped to protect the seabed and the seafloor species. The time is now to make this happen. This is even more urgent when the biosecurity threat of Caulerpa seaweed is spread through trawling.
“Protecting our oceans is also essential to tackling climate change. A healthy ocean helps to regulate the climate and reduce the impacts of climate change.
“While today’s announcement is a welcome step, Aotearoa is still woefully behind in marine protection. We are not doing anywhere near enough to control the impacts of industrial fishing. The clock is ticking and we’re at risk of losing precious habitats forever.
“Only with more Green MPs will we be able to take the necessary action to protect the health of our ocean, and all the creatures that live in it,” says Eugenie Sage.
Auckland Central Green MP, Chlöe Swarbrick added:
“We want to acknowledge the mahi of mana whenua, activists, organisers and community continuing to keep up the pressure to get here - and how much further we all have to push the Government to go. We have had the privilege of working with the Neureuter whānau in particular these past few years to help win the well overdue High Protection Area around the Noises.
“The Government also needs to ramp up its investment and the efforts of Biosecurity NZ against the invasive Caulerpa seaweed which can form dense mats on the seafloor and smother habitats and native species. It risks being the Mycoplasma bovis of the sea and requires the same Government attention and investment,” says Chlöe Swarbrick.