Murray McCully’s proposal for an ineffective Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Ross Sea focuses on protecting the fishing industry - not the environment, the Green Party said today.
"It is ironic and embarrassing that clean, green New Zealand has rejected a joint marine reserve proposal with the United States that would more effectively protect the Ross Sea," said Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
"The McCully proposal backs narrow fishing interests rather than marine protection.
"This proposal also undermines our relationship with the United States. Marine protection is an easy area of joint work and it is a huge failure for the Minister to be walking away from it.
"The McCully proposal offers size, not substance. It draws a line around known Ross Sea fishing grounds, protecting the fishing industry not the environment."
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance released maps earlier today that show that New Zealand’s proposal will maintain the status quo, leaving the majority of the Ross Sea’s biodiversity hotspots and the most heavily fished areas open and vulnerable to exploitation.
"This decision completely undermines our already weakened international reputation for sustainable fishing.
"The Government has tried to justify its desire to fish in the Ross Sea on the grounds that we are a responsible fishing nation, and our presence will keep others honest, while there is no proof of this.
"New Zealand should not be playing a part in the destruction of the most pristine ecosystem on earth.
"Proposing to degrade an area that is as close to 100% pure as can be for a quick buck isn’t good enough for a country with a 100% pure image.
"New Zealand has been a world leader in Antarctic protection and can now protect the ‘last ocean’ and support greater marine protection in the Ross Sea," said Mr Hughes.