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Greens to create Ocean Commission, establish Minister for Oceans

3 min read
Green Party

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says a green minister will get to work immediately on the creation of a new independent, science-led Ocean Commission. Photo: Green Party | Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

The Green Party is vowing to create an independent Ocean Commission, put a green minister for oceans and fisheries in charge, and protect 30% of the ocean by 2030.

“The Green Party has a rescue plan for the ocean – an Aotearoa-wide network for marine protected areas to put large parts of the sea off limits to destructive industries, and an independent Ocean Commission to guide how it happens,” said Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson.

“The ongoing plunder of overfishing, pollution, and climate change is pushing the ocean to the brink.

“Instead of allowing large parts of the ocean to be torn apart for profit, as successive governments have done, the Green Party has a bold, achievable, and brilliantly simple plan: cover large parts of Aotearoa’s ocean in protected areas, putting a third of the ocean off-limits to fishing, mining and other destructive industries.”

Davidson said the Green’s plan will start straight after the election, with the party making it a top priority in negotiations to have a green minister for oceans and fisheries at the Cabinet table. “We simply cannot leave the future of the ocean in the hands of any other political party,” she said.

A green minister will get to work immediately on the creation of a new independent, science-led Ocean Commission to advise the Government on te Tiriti-led action to protect the ocean, in much the same way as the Climate Change Commission has done on climate action.

“Advice from the Ocean Commission will provide the foundation for a new Healthy Ocean Act, which will provide a legally binding framework to create a network of marine protected areas that cover at least 30% of the ocean by 2030 and uphold te Tiriti o Waitangi,” Davidson said.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw added, “Without a healthy ocean, we cannot have a healthy planet. It is as simple as that. We cannot have healthy communities, with food to eat, and clean air to breathe, and we cannot tackle climate change.

“The ocean is our life support system, and when that system starts to break down, it affects every one of us.

“Over the last six years, the Green Party has taken more action on climate change than all previous governments before us. The time is now to do the same for the ocean.”

Shaw said the party’s plan to protect the ocean is based on what it has achieved for climate action in Aotearoa – a legally binding target backed by independent, expert advice on the best way to achieve it.

“Our plan for a Healthy Ocean Act will do the same for the ocean that the Zero Carbon Act has done for the climate.

“It will be the centrepiece for meaningful ocean protection and create a legally binding commitment
on all future governments to establish and maintain an Aotearoa-wide network of ocean sanctuaries, free
from harmful human activity.”

A Green Party minister for oceans and fisheries will:

  • Establish a new, politically independent Ocean Commission to work with iwi, hapū, local communities, councils, stakeholders and the public to advise the government on solutions that work for people and nature.
  • Pass a Healthy Ocean Act in the next three years to create a new framework for establishing marine protected areas in a way that upholds te Tiriti o Waitangi – putting in place a binding target of protecting at least 30% of the ocean surrounding Aotearoa, and helping restore the mauri of the moana.
  • Ban the most destructive fishing methods such as bottom trawling and set netting.
  • Increase capacity to protect New Zealand waters from invasive pest species by investing in improved marine biosecurity.
  • Create a new $100 million Moana Fund to support iwi and hapū to deliver on the marine conservation priorities.

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