The U turn on the US

A couple of months ago as part of filming The Last Ocean Documentary, I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully what New Zealand’s position was in terms of marine protection in the Ross Sea. In that interview McCully said “I’d like to think, if we are going to move into… putting a stronger priority on the conservation issues, that New Zealand would lead that charge”.

NZ’s “U turn’ on the US MPA proposal came about because it displaces too much of the fishing effort.  Mr McCully likely faced strong opposition from a few his cabinet colleagues, who I believe have earned themselves new titles – Hon. David Carter, Minister of All the Fish Belong to Us, Hon. $teven Joyce, Minister of Make Money at All Cost and Hon. Gerry Brownlee, Minister of If it Moves Mine it.

These guys are making a myth out of our Clean Green image. As Stuart Prior said in my previous post,  it’s time they ‘put some steel into their spine’ and start representing the spirit of those that put them in power – not the business interests of a few fishing companies.

(notes from question time in NZ Parliament last night)

Hon MURRAY McCULLY (Minister of Foreign Affairs) : The total allowable catch for the toothfish fishery in the Ross Sea region will not change as a result of a marine protected area. I have been advised that the New Zealand Ross Sea Marine Protected Area proposal would change the location in which fish are caught, but not necessarily the total amount of fish that New Zealand fishers would catch.

Gareth Hughes: Is it correct, then, that 84 percent of the historical catch has been from areas that his plan leaves wide open to further fishing?

Hon MURRAY McCULLY: I am informed that if you take a historical average over the last 10 years, then approximately 16 percent of the catch would have been in the area in the proposed marine protected area—the proposal put forward by New Zealand. So, on that basis, the member’s assertion would be correct, yes.

Gareth Hughes: Does the Minister stand by his comment made in the film The Last Ocean, about the Ross Sea, that he wanted New Zealand to be a conservation leader; if so, why did Cabinet reject the stronger protection proposal developed with the US Government?

Hon MURRAY McCULLY: The submission of a marine protected area proposal is merely the start of a process, not the end of it. Amongst the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources nations that will deal with the proposals, there are 25 countries represented, with a diverse range of interests. Some are more heavily emphasising science and conservation interests; others are more focused on national fisheries concerns. I suggest to the member that if a proposal advances any one of those considerations to the exclusion or disbenefit of others, then it is quite likely there will be no marine protected area agreed upon at all, and that is the real risk we now confront.

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