Proposals to curb environmental damage help our coasts and the oceansClimate Change Conservation Environment
Government Ministers today welcomed the release of a marine environment report highlighting the four key issues affecting our oceans, estuaries and coastlines.
The release underlines the importance of government proposals to combat climate pollution, ensure clean freshwater, protect biodiversity, make land use more sustainable, and reduce waste and plastic.
Environment Minister David Parker said the report Our Marine Environment 2019 will help inform the work already underway, including the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation’s efforts to protect our coasts and oceans and the life in them.
“Currently sediment and nutrient from land-based activities is polluting our coastal areas and harming shellfish and kelp beds to the detriment of our inshore fisheries,” David Parker said.
“The proposed water reform programme will improve the current management of freshwater but it will also help protect marine areas. It will better protect wetlands and estuaries, which help trap sediment and stop it flowing into the sea. Sediment loads in rivers and the quality of storm water and wastewater that flow into oceans will also be improved. The report clearly identifies sedimentation as a major issue,” David Parker said.
“One area that will benefit from the work is the Kaipara Harbour – a critical snapper breeding ground. There, and in other affected estuaries, sediment is harming our fish, shellfish and invertebrates making it harder for them to breed and feed. The local Kaipara community are working together in a mountains to sea approach by making changes on land.”
Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the report’s finding that New Zealand’s oceans are likely to absorb more carbon dioxide than our forests was yet more evidence of the need to take urgent, decisive and wide reaching action on emissions.
“New Zealand’s ocean waters are like a giant sponge for emissions and that is changing ocean water and harming the life in it – and harming us,” James Shaw said.
“The Zero Carbon Bill and improvements to the Emissions Trading Scheme will help limit climate pollution that’s causing sea levels to rise and making water warmer and more acidic.”
Conservation and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said the report confirms litter and plastic debris are everywhere in the marine environment.
“The most common litter on New Zealand beaches is plastic at 61 per cent and I’m pleased to say we’re making progress in this area. We’ve already phased out single-use plastic supermarket bags, banned microbeads, and work is underway on a container return scheme which will reduce plastic bottles polluting the environment.”
Kerbside and commercial recycling are to be improved and more product stewardship schemes are being put in place.
Eugenie Sage said she was hopeful of better protection for our marine environment.
“When we focus, we’ve seen improvements. We’ve seen some improvements in the conservation status of 13 seabird species since 2012 and three marine mammal species since 2013. This report highlights the urgency of strengthening the Threat Management Plan for Hectors and Māui dolphins and work to create a network of marine protected areas off the Otago coast.
“DOC manages 44 marine reserves covering 1.77 million hectares and eight marine mammal sanctuaries covering approximately 2.8 million hectares. Our goal is to extend marine protected area coverage even further and have a nationwide network in place representing New Zealand’s marine ecosystems.
“Our actions will help us hold on to the coasts and oceans and the life in them for our children and mokopuna. After all, our coasts and oceans are the places we play, relax, gather food and make revenue and for Māori, te Moana is part of their whakapapa.”
“Government work to protect the environment is crucial, but we can’t do this alone. Everyone has a role to play.”
The Our Marine Environment 2019 report is available at: https://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/marine/our-marine-environment-2019