Forest & Bird condemn pitiful scale of NZ’s Marine Sanctuaries

With public consultation meetings on the Government’s new Marine Protected Areas Act underway, Forest & Bird is drawing attention to a Department of Conservation map that reveals the minute scale of existing marine protected areas in New Zealand waters.

The Government is consulting on their proposal for new legislation to replace the Marine Reserves Act that has been in place since 1971. However, they have gone back on their public promises and are now proposing to apply the new act only to NZ’s territorial waters. The remaining 96%, the Exclusive Economic Zone, has now been excluded from their proposal.

The DOC map starkly illustrates that only a tiny portion of even our territorial sea around the New Zealand mainland has full protection in marine reserves, and the shocking absence of protection for New Zealand’s EEZ.

Forest & Bird members have been attending the Government’s public consultation meetings on the new legislation.

Colleen Philip from Forest & Bird's Christchurch branch says "I was even more concerned about this new legislation coming out of the meeting than I was going in. It appears that the Government has little interest in using this Act to protect marine biodiversity, which should be its primary purpose. Instead they are using it to protect the interests of the oil, gas and mineral industries."

"New Zealanders care deeply about our marine environment and the species that live in it," says Anton van Helden, marine advocate for Forest & Bird.

"In only a few weeks, well over a thousand people have used our online form to make a submission on the Government’s Marine Protected Area proposal, and many more have written personal submissions on the proposal".

"The new Act must provide for the ability to create marine protection in both the territorial sea and the EEZ and that marine protection must not be over-ridden by industry interests. The ad hoc process the Government is proposing will make it very difficult to achieve their own objective of creating a representative network of marine protected areas," says Mr van Helden.

Forest & Bird is encouraging people who want to speak up for New Zealand’s oceans to attend one of MfE’s public engagement meetings on the Marine Protected Areas discussion document, and to make a submission to the Ministry for the Environment before the deadline of 5pm, 11th March.

Submissions can also be made via Forest & Bird’s website.

Marine Protected Areas Consultation Events:

Christchurch: 12 February, 5.30pm - 7.30pm, Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square, 52 Cathedral Square

Auckland: 16 February, 11.30am - 1.30pm (MPA) and 5.30pm - 7.30pm (Recreational Fishing Parks), Rydges Auckland, 59 Federal Street

Wellington: 17 February, 5.30pm - 7.30pm, Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay, 100 Oriental Parade

Dunedin: 22 February, 5.30pm - 7.30pm, Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin, 10 Smith Street