option4 Update #54 NZFN Apr 2005
Protection – Politically Driven Madness
This was originally published in the May 2005 edition of the New Zealand Fishing News
Marine Protected Areas Plan
After extensive discussion and feedback option4 has rejected the Marine Protected Areas Policy Statement and Implementation Plan developed by the Department of Conservation (DoC) and the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish). The Plan does nothing to save our sea from continued over fishing and degradation through poor land management practices.
This Plan, originating from a directive of Cabinet, is not about consultation but all about fast-tracking marine reserves for political gain. It is therefore undemocratic and unacceptable. We believe that an Oceans Policy with proper participation and representation while addressing all our outstanding concerns (amounting to about 100 issues) must take preference before talking about marine protection, let alone marine reserves.
The complete lack of intent to engage with those of us who fish for food and who stand to sacrifice the most, while developing this Plan, speaks volumes. We will not accept becoming minor stakeholders amongst a majority of stacked votes. The suggestion that the public has the resources and expertise to participate in up to 18 regional forums is beyond reality.
option4 have learnt much about DoC's strategy in the past two years and MFish over many years. We have gained considerable support as we have strived to provide you with timely information, opportunities to have a say and well thought out submissions to ponder. We are clear and outspoken in the direction we must take to protect fish and other marine life. A growing number of tangata whenua are realising that this Government has no intention of fulfilling its promises in protecting our interests and those of future generations either.
The Truth – or Lack of It
We have serious reservations about sitting around a table with DoC, a Government department that has repeatedly shown contempt for the public and the truth. Our experience has been that any consultation has always ended in a one-way street with no compromises or even being listened to. We do not accept DoC as a worthy partner.
An example of DoC's attitude can be seen in an analysis report of the public awareness campaign conducted during the Te Paepae Aotea (Volkner Rocks) marine reserve application process. The report states that around 3000 submissions were received with 2600 (87%) of those opposed to the application. “ Of the opposing submissions 600 (23%) were received by email through the efforts of option4….Amongst this group of ‘partially informed' respondents, there is a strong short-term view and personal focus (losing our rights to fish now) without any apparent heed to sustainability issues and long-term ramifications of ‘business as usual'. ”
If DoC and MFish were truly concerned about the long-term ramifications they would have made more effort to consider a coordinated, integrated approach to marine protection. We need to change people's behaviour and attitude towards our marine environment, the outcome of this alternative strategy would see more fish swimming in better quality water. The ultimate goal!
The Vocal Minority
This same report goes onto to advise DoC “these groups, using the Internet and making it easy for members and supporters to ‘get involved', wield a great deal of power to rally what is often the ‘vocal minority' to oppose a particular effort. The challenge is to engage busy people (the ‘silent majority') in a busy world where there are so many ‘important' issues to learn about and ‘cast a vote' on.”
It is no wonder the public hold DoC in such contempt if this is the way they consider the submissions from people who have taken the time to participate in their process. Not withstanding the fact that DoC and MFish issued this Plan in November expecting submissions by January.
As DoC and MFish try to avoid confrontation by implementing this Plan the losers will be our country and our children. With such scant regard given to marine protection tools other than marine reserves this initiative is not likely to gain much support from tangata whenua and the public, particularly when the truth is revealed.
option4 will be endeavouring to provide you with the marine protection policies of all the main parties as we lead up to a possible early election. We have had enough of this politically driven madness conveniently called “marine protection”. We owe it to our children that permanent closure and the consequent loss of opportunity and aspirations is pursued in a most careful way.
Please go to www.option4.co.nz and register your support for our continued involvement in marine protection issues.