New marine protection law 'rides roughshod' over Maori rights
Proposed laws for establishing protected marine areas will undermine Maori fishing rights, the Maori Fisheries Trust says.
On Tuesday the government announced a proposal to build a new framework for protecting New Zealand's marine environments, including creating marine reserves and recreational fishing parks.
If passed, the new laws would see two large recreational fishing parks created in Auckland and Marlborough, where commercial fishing would be banned.
The Maori Fisheries Trust (Te Ohu Kaimoana) says the new legislation erodes the value of the 1992 Maori Fisheries Settlement.
* Government proposes recreational fishing park for Marlborough Sounds
* Commercial fishing to be banned in Hauraki Gulf, Marlborough Sounds
* Commercial blue cod closure 'a real blow'
The settlement guaranteed Maori a large portion of New Zealand's commercial fishing quota. Maori are now the largest group in New Zealand fisheries, controlling over a third of the industry.
"The Maori Fisheries Settlement agreed ongoing access to and participation in all fisheries for iwi and Maori," said Trust chairman Jamie Tuuta.
He said the proposed new laws contradicted the settlement because they would prevent iwi in areas where commercial fishing was banned from exercising their rights to the fish.
"The Government's announcement rides roughshod over that agreement by proposing to take away iwi fishing rights and take back the recognition of Maori rights that were made a quarter of a century ago," Tuuta said.
Sustainability had always been a "core tenet" of Maori resource management, he said.
Meanwhile, Forest and Bird has criticised the proposed legislation for not going far enough.
The organisation says the new laws should not include recreational fishing parks, which do nothing to protect marine species.
"Recreational fishing parks are not a marine protection tool. They are a fisheries management tool and have no place in marine protected areas legislation," Forest and Bird marine advocate Anton van Helden said.
He said recreational fishing areas had already been established in parts of New Zealand and had failed to protect marine biodiversity.
The current proposal clearly prioritised oil, gas and mineral rights over biodiversity, van Helden said.
He was also concerned the proposed legislation did not cover enough of the country's ocean space.
"The current wording only includes the Territorial Sea, a mere 4 per cent of New Zealand's ocean space," he said.
Forest and Bird said the legislation must include New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) if it was to provide meaningful protection for New Zealand oceans.
The organisation was urging New Zealanders to support the inclusion of the EEZ in the Marine Protected Areas discussion document.