Wellington, June 10, 2017
The following is a part of a speech delivered by New Zealand’s Conservation Minister Maggie Barry at the United Nations Ocean Conference held in New York this week.
New Zealand has made clear our long-term commitment to protecting, conserving and sustainably using oceans and marine resources.
Healthy and productive oceans are enormously important to New Zealand and I am pleased to have had the opportunity to showcase to the world what we are doing in New Zealand and the Pacific to protect them for generations to come.
There is great optimism and hope among countries at the Conference that we can turn the tide and reverse the degradation of our marine spaces worldwide.
I have reiterated the Government’s commitment to establishing the Kermadec/Rangitahua Ocean Sanctuary.
At 620,000 square kilometres, it will be one of the largest and most significant fully protected areas in the world.
I have also highlighted its work towards banning the manufacture and sale of products containing microbeads and announced this week the Sustainable Coastlines project which will focus on research to support action on combatting litter.
New Zealand is seeking ambitious and effective rules on harmful fisheries subsidies which contribute to illegal fishing and to overfishing. New Zealand will be working for this as an outcome from the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in December in Buenos Aires.
The amount of marine debris caused by lost and discarded fishing gear is a significant problem and we were pleased to sign a statement of support for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative to address this issue.
New Zealand is investing an additional $54 million over five years to improve Pacific Island led sustainable fisheries management and to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Pacific.
We are funding science advice on setting sustainable limits of key Pacific tuna stocks. We are also funding improvements in monitoring and enforcement at Pacific ports where transshipment and unloading of catches occur.
We are also partnering with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to identify and implement practical solutions to ocean acidification in the Pacific caused by climate change.
New Zealand will be undertaking a programme of science in the Antarctic to support the implementation the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area it helped establish.
It will be the world’s largest marine protected area when it comes into effect on December 1, 2017.
At the start of the conference, I was particularly pleased to host the launch of the landmark United Nations World Ocean Assessment which will ensure that policy makers have access to the best available science on the state of the ocean.
The conference was about galvanising support to implement Sustainable Development Goal 14 on conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and New Zealand has lodged commitments in all areas covered by the goal.