Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill introducedEnvironment
A Bill to establish one of the world’s largest and most significant fully protected ocean areas in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was introduced to Parliament today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.
“This Bill implements and details the announcement made by Prime Minister John Key at the United Nations on 29 September last year. All forms of fishing and mining are to be prohibited in the 620,000 square kilometre area of the EEZ from Raoul Island in the north to L'Esperance Rock in the south,” Dr Smith says.
“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary covers one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth. It includes the second deepest ocean trench at over 10 kilometres – deeper than Mt Everest is tall – and an arc of 30 underwater volcanoes – the largest anywhere on earth. It is home to six million seabirds of 39 different species, over 150 species of fish, 35 species of whales and dolphins, three species of sea turtles – all endangered – and many other marine species like corals, shellfish and crabs unique to this area. The scale of this sanctuary – at twice the size of New Zealand and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland – makes this a significant environmental achievement.
“The Bill includes important details on how the new Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be managed. It is proposed that a new Conservation Board be established, which will be responsible for developing a conservation management strategy for the sanctuary, existing marine reserve and on-land nature reserves. The two iwi, Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri, will each have the opportunity to nominate a board member. Activities that will be allowed, in accordance with New Zealand’s international obligations, are navigation of ships, overflight by aircraft, marine scientific research, and submarine cables for communication. Scientific research programmes requiring consents will be done through the Environmental Protection Authority, which is responsible for other areas of the EEZ.”
The introduction of the Bill was acknowledged today by an event at Parliament with the Prime Minister, and included representatives of Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri, representatives from the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Chile, and from the Kermadec Initiative partners, Pew Charitable Trust, WWF-New Zealand, and Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.
“I want to particularly thank Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri for their support of many years for this sanctuary and their constructive engagement on the detail of the Bill. Their suggestion of managing the sanctuary, marine reserve and nature reserves under one integrated plan makes sense and the issues are sufficiently unique to do so separately from the existing Auckland Conservation Board. The Bill provides for an ongoing role for both iwi on the Kermadec Conservation Board and a requirement for consultation on major scientific research programmes requiring consent,” Dr Smith says.
“The presence today of representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Chile is important in emphasising the cooperation across the Pacific to improve oceans management and conservation. The new Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is part of a network of Pacific marine protected areas including the US Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, the Australian Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve, the UK Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve, and Chile's Easter Island Marine Reserve that are the results of this close international cooperation.”
The Bill introduced today is set down for first reading this month and is intended to be referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee for public submissions, with the ambition of being passed so that the sanctuary can come into effect on 1 November 2016.