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Marine environment report highlights inadequacy of New Zealand’s current oceans management

27 October 2016

Today Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment concurrently released reports on New Zealand’s marine economy and on the state of New Zealand’s marine environment:

New Zealand’s Marine Economy 2007-13

Our Marine Environment 2016

“The results of the state of the environment report are extremely hard hitting and show that the new Environmental Reporting Act is working,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“The statistics reveal a real problem with New Zealand’s marine and oceans management.

“The environment report identifies climate change as one of New Zealand’s top 3 marine issues.  Ironically, the economic report states that the biggest contributor to the marine economy is offshore minerals a significant portion of which is oil.

“It is clear that addressing degradation of the marine environment is inevitably going to impact on the marine economy.

“Whilst the effects of climate change are a critical threat there are actions that can be taken in the short term to turn around the alarming and continuous decline of marine seabirds and mammals, and to address the impacts of land-based activities.  90% of our seabird and shorebird species are threatened with, or at risk of extinction, and that is something that cannot be ignored.

“It is clear from the report that better integration is needed in managing different activities and pressures, and across environmental domains,” continued Mr Taylor.

“There are tools available and waiting to be deployed. Marine spatial planning is an under-utilised tool.  Looking at how National Policy Statements on the coast and on freshwater can be better connected to account for the sea as the ultimate receiving environment would be another useful step.  Reform of the marine protected areas legislation has stalled for some years and needs to be revived. The Kermadec Oceans Sanctuary needs to happen.

“There also needs to be a hard look at the institutional arrangements.  Currently oceans management is split between agencies one of which, MPI, has profound internal conflicts to manage.

“Fundamental reform is required.  A dedicated oceans agency, for example, might be the answer and is worth further investigation.  There is no denying that we have isn’t working.  It’s time for a mature discussion amongst all stakeholders on a better way forward,” concluded Mr Taylor.