Fishing parks a distraction from Marine Protected Areas

Recreational fishing parks should not be included in the primary legislation for protecting New Zealand’s marine environment, Forest & Bird says.

“Recreational Fishing Parks are not a marine protection tool. They are a fisheries management tool and have no place in marine protected areas legislation,” says Anton van Helden, Forest & Bird’s Marine Advocate.
The inclusion of recreational fishing parks in MFE’s Marine Protected Areas discussion document has prompted discussion around recreational fishing, rather than its critical objective of protecting our marine environment.

“It makes no sense whatsoever to include recreational fishing in this document, as such areas can be created under the Fisheries Act. Similar tools, such as Taiapure and Mataitai are already managed this way,” said Mr van Helden.

“In fact, recreational fishing parks have already been established in NZ and history shows us they don't protect marine biodiversity."

With only an 8 week consultation period, Mr van Helden says discussion and focus needs to remain firmly on how to better protect our marine environment, which must include the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“It’s much more important for New Zealanders to advocate for the inclusion of the EEZ into the Act. The current wording only includes the Territorial Sea, a mere 4% of New Zealand’s ocean space. The Government recognises the need for a representative network of marine reserves, but this is an impossibility if we do not include the EEZ out to 200 nautical miles,” said Mr van Helden.
Special legislation would be the only available means to form a marine reserve outside the territorial sea, which may take years to achieve.
Mr van Helden says that the discussion document clearly prioritises oil, gas and mineral rights over biodiversity.
Forest & Bird is urging New Zealanders to support the inclusion of the EEZ in the Marine Protected Areas discussion document, to allow protection to the unique deep sea environment and the special animals that live there and cross into our waters closer to shore.