Kermadec/Rangitahua Ocean Sanctuary
A deep-water marine sanctuary off the Kermadec Islands could still go ahead, with Labour confirming it would work to establish the world's largest marine reserve in a way that would satisfy both of its governing partners.
It appears an agreement has been reached between Labour, NZ First and the Greens individually that satisfies Green support for the protection of the Kermadec's pristine waters, while assuring NZ First that iwi and commercial fishing rights will be taken into account.
Incoming prime minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the sanctuary played a role in coalition talks, but said, it was not dead in the water.
"Our intention is to work alongside Māori and use our best endeavours to achieve the Kermadec Sanctuary. We will be seeking consensus and agreement with our support parties to find a resolution," she said.
That could be a difficult ask to achieve in a first term, with views on the sanctuary in stark opposition. The consultation process is likely to be careful and protracted, and legislation for the reserve's creation could be some time away.
Ardern's comments followed suggestions the NZ First deal had scuppered the Greens' push for the sanctuary to be a condition of support in government.
Greens co-leader James Shaw said he was happy with the plan for progression and held "high hopes" it would be before Parliament in the next three years.
"I'm not saying it's going to be easy, right, because there are a lot of complicated issues to work through. But we're committed to working through those," Shaw said.
"We always said this at the time, that [National] created the problem by rushing it out and not consulting. They then had to work backwards towards a resolution. And we're committed to finding a resolution too, but it's got to be alongside Māori."
The 620,000-square-kilometre Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, announced by former prime minister John Key at the United Nations in 2015, was hailed around the world and passed its first reading in Parliament unopposed.
But fishing companies and iwi bodies filed legal action opposing it, saying the sanctuary would deny them fishing rights agreed in Treaty settlements.
It's been in limbo since, and the previous National government had to pull back on the deal following Māori Party threats to walk from government if the sanctuary went ahead.
It's understood NZ First, whose senior MPs are close to the fishing industry and whose campaign was partly bankrolled by players in the fishing industry, initially demanded work to establish the sanctuary cease.
Some of Labour's own Māori MPs were also opposed to the sanctuary on the basis that it would undermine iwi fishing rights. Much of the bad blood that erupted when the sanctuary was announced was due to lack of consultation with iwi.
Govt to delay Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill (14 Sept 2016)
The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill is being delayed, after talks with Māori fishing representatives broke down and the ACT Party pulled its support. Te Ohu Kaimoana, which represents iwi fishing interests, said the government had rejected compromises to the bill creating the huge marine sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands.
The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, pictured along with other large marine protected areas in the Pacific.A map showing the planned Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, along with other large marine protected areas in the Pacific. Photo: Ministry for the Environment
After days of negotiations, it had walked away from the table - and would continue legal action in the High Court and Waitangi Tribunal on behalf of iwi.
Prime Minister John Key said the government still had the numbers to pass the legislation, but would delay the bill's passage until a solution was found.
"We're absolutely sure we can get the numbers with the Greens but we're very disappointed that negotiations with [Te Ohu Kaimoana] have broken down at this point."
The government would restart discussions with the Māori Party to see whether it would support the bill, he said.
"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."
From New Zealand Government Consultation Document (January 2016):
The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres. To date, the isolation of the area and the depth of water have ensured a very low level of human impact, but increased activity in fishing, seabed mining and the spread of pollution across the world’s oceans makes it important to protect these globally significant pristine areas.
From the Ministry of the Environment website:
The Government will be introducing legislation to Parliament to enact the new sanctuary with the intention to have it in place by 1 October 2016. The sanctuary follows the establishment in 1990 of the Kermadec Marine Reserve which consists of 7500 square kilometres. The marine reserve extends 12 nautical miles from the cliffs and boulder beaches of the various Kermadec Islands and rocks, out to the edge of the territorial sea.
From stuff.co.nz website (29 Sept 2015):
A vast stretch of New Zealand's exclusive economic zone is being turned into an ocean sanctuary in a landmark deal to preserve one of the most pristine and unique environments on earth.
Prime Minister John Key announced the deal in New York Tuesday NZT, and said it would encompass 620,000 km2 in the seas north-east of New Zealand in the Kermadec region.
"The Kermadec Ocean sanctuary will be one of the world's largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life," Key said.
The sanctuary will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand's exclusive economic zone, an area twicee size of our landmass and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland.
"As well as being home to a wide range of marine species, the Kermadec region is one of the most geographically and geologically diverse areas in the word. It contains the world's longest underwater volcanic arc and he second deepest ocean trench at 10 kilometres deep," Key said.
"...The annual value of fisheries in the region [estimated] to be about $165,000 from a 20.1 million tonne catch. That's a fraction of New Zealand's annual fishing exports of $1.44 billion." - http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/fishing-mining-interests-kermadec-sanctuary-wont-attract-compensation-b-179358
"those fishers currently operating in FMA10 (the Kermadec Fisheries Management Area) target exclusive economic zone-wide HMS (highly migratory species) stocks that can be taken effectively in other areas." - http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/fishing-mining-interests-kermadec-sanctuary-wont-attract-compensation-b-179358
"the exclusion of the area from mining and prospecting would reduce a prospecting permit applied for by Nautilus Minerals NZ by about 44%, though, because the application was still under review, officials could work with the company to revise the prospect area." - http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/fishing-mining-interests-kermadec-sanctuary-wont-attract-compensation-b-179358
The government is aiming to pass legislation to create the marine reserve next year . - http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34387945
New Zealand Department of Conservation – Kermadec Marine Reserve: http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/marine-and-coastal/marine-protected-areas/marine-reserves-a-z/kermadec/facts/