Be honest, Prime Minister - don't tell the world a whopper!
Previous New Zealand governments have proudly claimed that over 30% of our waters are protected. But less than 1% is actually fully protected.
Almost all of what has been claimed as ‘protected’ are things called Benthic Protection Areas (BPAs) and are almost all in places where there is no fishing. The majority aren’t in the ocean spaces science tells are most important.
Now, the government is preparing to make its 2018 report to the world. They're considering this right now, so we can persuade them not let us all down by trying to sell the world another whopper.
Together, we can show the government that it's possible for New Zealand to be honest - and, what's more, that doing the right thing will be good for us all.
A marine protected area is an area of ocean set aside to protect its biodiversity, where no industrial activities like commercial fishing or seabed mining are allowed.
The IUCN defines a protected area as:
A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values
In particular, any seabed mining, industrial fishing, or oil and gas extraction cannot take place within a marine protected area, according to the IUCN. The best marine protected areas are fully protected, without any extractive activities (subject to the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities).
A benthic protected area is an area of ocean where industrial fishing, seabed mining, and oil and gas exploration or extraction can happen - but where seabed trawling and dredging are prohibited. They do not meet the international definition of a marine protected area.
New Zealand's benthic protected areas were set up in 2007 by a previous government, based on a proposal made by fishing industry representatives.
Almost all are in places where there is no fishing, and where the was no seabed trawling before 2007 anyway. The majority aren’t in the ocean spaces science tells are most important.
We want the government to be honest with the world. We want the government to protect New Zealand's international reputation by doing the right thing, instead of repeating the whopper told by previous governments that benthic protected areas are marine protected areas.
Before reporting to the world on Aotearoa’s level of marine protection later this year, we think the government should listen to the voices of scientists, mana whenua, NGOs, marine experts and all of our local communities with an interest in our precious ocean.
New Zealanders deserve honest reporting - and we deserve to have our say.