Thursday, March 28, 2024

National's total reversal on marine protection

In 2015, then-Prime Minister John Key announced plans for a huge ocean sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands, banning fishing and mining from 15% of Aotearoa's EEZ. It was bold, it was ambitious, and it suggested that National might actually care about the environment. Except they fucked it up: Key failed to consult iwi, in violation of the 1992 Treaty settlement on fisheries, resulting in a threatened court case and ACT - ACT! - pulling its support. The bill then sat on the order paper for the next nine years while first National, then Labour, tried to do what should have been done in the first place, and negotiated with iwi. For six of those years, when Labour was in power, National would ask about the bill regularly, suggesting strongly that they still supported it.

...and now, they've killed it:

The Government has given up trying to establish the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, with Cabinet scrapping the bill proposing the marine reserve.

It’s almost a decade since former Prime Minister John Key first announced plans for a 620,000sq km sanctuary at the United Nations in New York in 2015.

Ocean and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones said in a statement Cabinet had decided to pull the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill from Parliament’s order paper, stopping further progress on establishing the sanctuary.

He argued the current marine reserve around the Kermadec Islands, which extended 12 nautical miles, was “ample” to preserve the environment and marine life.

Worse, yesterday Jones mentioned "manganese nodules in the Kermadecs" in response to a question on seabed mining - so it seems that National has gone from wanting the EEZ around the Kermadecs to be effectively the marine equivalent of a national park, to wanting to mine it - a total reversal.

The lesson here: we can't rely on National to respect Te Tiriti, and we can't rely on them to protect the environment either. If we want people to work in good faith towards those outcomes, we need to vote for someone else.