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National MP Nick Smith says he is disappointed with the Government again blocking the establishment of the 600,000 km2 Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, in spite of strong support for the proposal at Parliament today.

“The proposed Kermadec Sanctuary would be an internationally significant conservation initiative which would protect one of the most pristine and diverse areas of ocean anywhere in the world.

“It would be home to six million sea birds, 35 species of fish and three of the world’s seven species of sea turtle. This is a unique opportunity for New Zealand to make a global contribution towards better conservation of the world’s oceans.

“That’s why I have a member’s bill in the ballot to establish the sanctuary and with National’s 56 votes and the Greens’ eight, there is a clear Parliamentary majority. But Labour and NZ First inexplicably continue to stand in its way – and did so again in Parliament today.

“The Sanctuary has strong public support with independent opinion polls showing 93 per cent of New Zealanders - including 82 per cent of Māori - support it while today Pew, WWF and Forest and Bird were all at Parliament to show their support.

“I will continue to work to build support for this Sanctuary because the reasons for establishing it far outweigh those for not.

“All of the 17 marine protected areas I have been involved in creating have had some controversy and setbacks, but perseverance and advocacy have seen them achieved and huge environmental benefits realised.

“I appreciate today’s campaign from Pew, WWF NZ and Forest and Bird, and will continue to work with them to advance this Sanctuary. We have a clear public and parliamentary majority so it is just a matter of time.”

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