WWF-New Zealand Reviews Green Party’s Ocean Policies

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Today the Green Party announced their “Thriving Oceans
Plan” to highlight their Ocean policies to build a
thriving ocean.

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Every single life on our planet is
dependent on the ocean. It’s one of the world’s greatest
resources. It produces food and oxygen, regulates our
climate and supports the lives, and livelihoods, of every
single person on Earth.

“Aotearoa is kaitiaki of the
4th largest EEZ in the world, that’s 15x the size of our
land. We currently protect 30% of our lands, but only fully
protect 0.04% of our ocean. For decades, efforts to create
ocean policy to restore ocean health has been abysmal,”
says Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand CEO.

THC University

WWF-New
Zealand has long advocated for a healthy, resilient ocean
and is currently running a targeted campaign to place our
ocean on the electoral agenda. We welcome this
acknowledgement from the Green Party. We look forward to the
other political parties laying out their ocean policies to
help ensure a thriving and resilient ocean for future
generations.

Overall, like many other parties, the
Green Party’s ocean policies broadly align with many of
WWF’s ocean policy positions. In the end, we know, it is
one thing to have a plan. This plan looks good on paper,
however, we need more than a plan. Effective results will
only come through strong leadership, true partnership with
tangata whenua, and urgent action.

“As we heard at
our ocean forum
on Thursday, The COVID crisis has show that when Aotearoa is
called upon to make difficult and monumental changes, we can
do this quickly. We need to use this same sense of urgency
with our ocean. We already have collapsing fish stocks,
unswimmable beaches, and are destroying ecosystems at a
rapid pace. We cannot continue to make excuses or delay.
This next government, whoever it may be, must stand up for
our ocean,” says Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand
CEO.

“Our ocean
forum
also showed our political parties (Greens, Labour,
Māori, National, and TOP) agree on far more than they
disagree. It was heartening to see they all believe we need
better policy and greater action to protect our moana for
our future. We saw cross-party support for climate change
last year, now they must do the same for our
ocean.”

WWF-New Zealand has 10
policy positions
as part of our ocean campaign. Many of
these asks are reflected within the Green Party’s plan,
here is our assessment of their
plan:

“Protect at least 30% of Aotearoa’s
oceans by 2030”
: WWF is pleased the Greens have
adopted the policy we have been advocating for many years.
It is important they have acknowledged this needs to
recognise Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This should be done in true
partnership with tangata whenua. (see here
to see how other parties feel on this issue) While they supported
WWF’s call to protect Rangitāhua in our ocean campaign,
we are sad to see the glaring omission from this policy
regarding some of our unique ecological habitats including,
Rangitāhua/Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary and Motu
Ihupuku/Campbell Island.

“Begin to develop a
new way of managing fisheries based on holistic ecosystem
management”
: WWF advocates for ecosystem based
management and ensuring our fisheries management allows for
abundance and resilience against climate change
impacts.

“Introduce comprehensive marine
spatial planning”
: WWF supports marine spatial
planning. It is important that marine protection and
conservation goals are an integral part of the planning
process. Protecting 30% of our marine habitats should be a
bottom-line in the planning process along with other
conservation goals.

“Ban the most harmful
commercial fishing practices”: WWF is strongly supportive
of banning bottom trawling on seamounts but there are other
vulnerable marine ecosystems that also need to be protected
from this destructive practice. WWF has always supported the
removal of set-netting from the habitats of vulnerable
marine species. We must also ensure marine mammal
sanctuaries are protected from seismic surveying which is
not clearly stated in this
plan.

Restore the health and
abundance of the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana/Te Moananui a
Toi”
: WWF thinks restoring the health and
abundance of this critical part of our environment is
absolutely essential. This area has suffered significant
losses. Crayfish and snapper have all but disappeared. In
many areas, kina have taken over and the seabed is
suffocating under sediment and plastic because of increased
run-off, poor land use practices, and the overharvesting of
fish. This has left many local beaches unsafe for swimming
and locals unable to catch a fish. In order to restore the
gulf, it needs a cross-sectoral concerted effort between
government, fishers, community groups, iwi/hapū/ whānau,
agriculture, and industry. Implementing new marine protected
areas in the Hauraki Gulf should be a
priority.

“Invest up to $50 million to help
fishers transition”:
WWF believes in people
living in harmony with nature. Helping fishers transition to
safer, more sustainable methods will help the environment
and communities thrive, however we are unsure $50 million
will go far enough to ensure a just
transition.

“Support robust and
well-resourced monitoring and enforcement of
fisheries”:
WWF believes in order to achieve
sustainable fisheries, we must also have transparency,
accountability, and sufficient data to better manage stocks
for abundance and resilience. This can be achieved through
cameras on boats, traceability, and other effective
monitoring tools. We support the proposal for increasing
research dollars, particularly for a greater number of stock
and ecosystem assessments.

“Ensure less
plastic ends up in our oceans”
: WWF science shows
that people consume nearly a credit card of plastic a week
and plastics have reached the greatest depths of our ocean.
Any efforts to reduce the amount of plastic entering our
environment is welcome. This not only will protect humans
but also our precious taonga
species.

“Support local marine conservation
effort”
: WWF currently supports community
conservation projects across the country. We believe
community and indigenous led efforts are essential to
achieve protected and well managed coastal ecosystems and
are pleased to see a financial commitment to support these
efforts.

“Global Oceans Treaty”:
New Zealand needs to show greater leadership in
international fora such as, negotiations on biodiversity
beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) and CBD negotiations for
a new global biodiversity framework.

About WWF-New
Zealand Ocean Campaign:

On Monday 31 August, WWF-New
Zealand launched a new digital campaign, demanding our
political leaders finally make ocean health an election
issue – a joint call with the voices of marine and climate
scientists, Māori leaders, young ocean activists, and many
other New Zealanders. Less than 1% of Aotearoa’s coastal
and marine area is fully protected. 80% of New Zealanders –
including 91% of our youth, and 88% of Māori – agree that
we must do more.

The campaign calls
for:

Effective protection of one third of our coastal
and marine area

Transparent and sustainable
fisheries

Protection of our threatened and endangered
marine species.

To join the call, sign up
here:
https://www.wwf.org.nz/take_action/stand_for_our_ocean/

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