“New Zealanders should be appalled by revelations today that the National Government is denying us deep sea marine reserves so it can promote oil exploration,” Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today.
According to reports by TVNZ, the Minister for the Environment has had to drop planned law changes which could have protected marine life in New Zealand’s deep oceans (known as the Exclusive Economic Zone).
“National is saying that all of our deep oceans outside of 12 nautical miles offshore will remain open for mining, fishing and risky deep sea oil drilling,” Ms Sage said.
“The National Government is breaking an election promise to protect areas of New Zealand’s deep oceans. Instead it is sticking with the status quo from the 1970s where marine reserves can only be created close to shore, in our territorial waters.
“The National Government has chosen to put a short-term oil grab, and open access for seabed mining and fishing ahead of widespread calls for greater protection of New Zealand’s distinctive marine environment, healthy fish stocks, habitat for whales and dolphins, and important feeding areas for seabirds.
“The National Government is also backing down on an election pledge to include New Zealanders in the discussion of how and where we should protect our deep oceans and offshore areas. It’s now clear that the only people the National Government were willing to talk to were the oil industry, and others who exploit the oceans.
“New Zealand is responsible for the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, but we protect only 0.4 percent of it. We need to create deep sea marine protection zones to help guarantee healthy fish stocks for future generations, and protect the biodiversity of marine life – including whales, dolphins, sharks, fish, and seabirds.
“Marines reserves and marine protected areas should be located where they can do the most good for New Zealand’s precious marine life, not just where National can’t find oil or the fishing industry don’t want to fish.
“The oil industry is dying, and the Government seems happy for New Zealand’s endangered marine species to go the same way.
“For healthy oceans, healthy fish stocks, and safe habitats for seabirds, whales, dolphins, sharks and other marine life we need a law change to enable the creation of deep sea marine protected areas in the Exclusive Economic Zone,” said Ms Sage.