11 March 2016

Let’s not waste another chance to protect our oceans, says Environment Commissioner

Let’s not waste another chance to protect our oceans, says Environment Commissioner 

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment today urged New Zealanders not to  squander another chance to protect New Zealand’s oceans. 

“We must not let yet another opportunity to safeguard our precious marine life pass us by,” says the Commissioner, Dr Jan Wright. 

Dr Wright today released her advice in response to a consultation document proposing a new Marine Protected Areas Act. 

“For decades we have been debating how to protect our seas, but little progress has been made. It’s time for some real action,” said Dr Wright. 

In 2002 the Labour Government proposed new marine protection law, but could not get it through Parliament. The National Government committed to pass a new law by 2014, but did not manage to do so. 

In her advice to Parliament, the Commissioner said she is pleased to see a new proposal on the table. She was also heartened by the intent to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.   

“The proposal needs some work, but it’s a good place to start. Let’s work together on it with a ‘can-do’ attitude,” said Dr Wright. 

“There are challenges. One of the difficult questions that we cannot ignore is how to protect areas of the sea without eroding Treaty rights and Maori fisheries settlements,” she continued. 

She observed that New Zealand has a long and proud history of protecting special places on land, like national parks and reserves. 

“We have many very special places on land where our forests and wildlife are protected, and where we enjoy our unique environment. Let’s not lose the opportunity to do the same for our big blue backyard,” she said.

The Commissioner's submission is available here.  

ENDS 

For more information contact Tom Crick on 0220323480