While it is encouraging to see that Labour have finally responded to the 2017 Sea Change report, the Government’s announcement bears the hallmarks of another shallow policy announcement, National’s Oceans and Fisheries spokesperson Tim van de Molen says.
“New Zealand’s nearly four years under this Government is the longest period since 1990 in which no new marine reserves have been created. This proposal is long overdue.
“The inaction of the Labour Government, who talk a big game when it comes to the environment, has meant that crucial progress that could have been made in areas like dwindling rock lobster numbers, for example, have worsened instead.
“Having spent so long getting to this point, it would be fair to assume that rigorous consultation would have taken place, but I’m hearing from industry stakeholders that they are in the dark.
“The key to achieving real environmental change in our marine spaces is to achieve a difficult balance between environmental priorities, customary rights, recreational usage, local stakeholders, and commercial interests. This Government needs to prove it can get it right by consulting all.
“Fisheries is our fifth largest industry and it is crucial that any environmental action mitigates impact on jobs and businesses. This is an area where the Government’s report is lacking; there is scant detail on economic impacts of the proposed actions.
“Given the track record of the Government on delivery, I will be calling for some clear timeframes and measures of success so that we, as opposition, can hold the Government to account.
“National proved we could balance the environment & economy when we created 11 new marine reserves over 9 years, and grew the economic contribution of the industry at the same time.”
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