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ECO Reviews MPA Implementation Plan Release - ‘Govt Drops the Ball on Marine Protection’

Read what Conservation groups are saying about the Government’s Marine Protected Areas Implementation Plan

14 February 2008 – Media Release – Wellington

Government drops the ball on marine protection

The Government has again dropped the ball when it comes to real marine protection, says ECO, the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ. in response to today’s release of the Marine Protected Areas policy Classification, Protection Standard and Implementation Guidelines.
ECO Chairperson Barry Weeber, said the policy contains no standard by which to judge marine protection.  The policy is wishy washy and has no scientific measures for standards.  It is a policy to allow fake protection, not real protection.

 “This is no Valentine’s Day present for the marine environment.”
“The draft policy proposed a range of criteria which were weak. Now they have gone altogether.”.
Mr Weeber said ECO can only conclude that the draft criteria were removed when it was realised that fake protected areas, called Benthic Protected Areas, proposed by the fishing industry and adopted by the Minister of Fisheries would have failed even the weak criteria promulgated originally but now withdrawn..
“These Bogus Protected Areas are unworthy of being considered as marine protected areas and should have been rejected.”
Mr Weeber said that NIWA, using 96,000 data sets, had shown conclusively that the Bogus Protected Areas are worse at protecting our native species than areas selected at random.
 “New Zealand is well behind international action on marine protected areas required by the Convention on Biodiversity Action Plan.
“It seems the Government is taking an anti-science approach to marine protection which cannot bode well for future marine protection.”
The policy has been released only a week after the release of the Government’s state of the Environment report which stated that “Marine reserves are expected to play a significant role in protecting our marine biodiversity.”
ECO noted that the Local Government and Environment Select Committee had expressed concern in December at the slow progress on marine protection and that DoC did not “have protection under control”.
Mr Weeber said our marine environment will suffer further extensive losses unless the marine protected areas policy was withdrawn and redone.   We have waited and waited for some reasonable policy: this is pathetic.

ECO has 65 member organizations with a shared concern for the environment.

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