National puts fishing interests ahead of the environment and local communities

The National Government has once again shown it’s more interested in plundering the environment than protecting it, the Green Party said today.

The comments come on the back of news that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will challenge an Environment Court ruling that allows regional councils to use the Resource Management Act (RMA) to put limited controls on fishing to provide for marine protection.

“National appears determined to stop local communities protecting their own big blue backyard. Obviously National prioritises plundering the marine environment over protecting it,” said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The Rena grounding had a major impact on the Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef. The reef needs time to recover and a rest from fishing pressure but MPI appears determined to prevent that.

“Motiti Rohe Moana Trust was forced to go to court and turn to the RMA and the Regional Council for help because MPI failed them. MPI wouldn’t implement the Trust’s sensible and reasonable request for a temporary closure of Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef to give effect to a rahui over the reef and allow depleted fish stocks and taonga species to recover after damage from the Rena grounding.

“If MPI won’t use its powers to protect the Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef or other significant marine areas from fishing pressure then hapu, iwi and community organisations should be able to ask their regional councils to use the RMA and regional coastal plans for help. Now having failed the local community, MPI wants to block off that option too.

“MPI has failed to prevent by-kill of seabirds, seals and dolphins by the commercial fishing industry, and has had a hands-off approach to fish-dumping.

“The National Government crows about its environmental work, all the while undermining the environment in cases such as this,” said Ms Sage.

 

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