Greens to create Ocean Commission, establish Minister for Oceans

The Green Party is vowing to create an independent Ocean Commission, put a Green Minister for Oceans and Fisheries in charge, and protect 30% of the ocean by 2030.

“The Green Party has a rescue plan for the ocean – an Aotearoa-wide network for marine protected areas to put large parts of the sea off limits to destructive industries, and an independent Ocean Commission to guide how it happens,” says Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson.


“This election, only the Green Party is putting forward evidence-based solutions to the challenges we face.

“All we are seeing from the two big political parties is bickering over inconsequential issues and the kind of tinkering that leaves people with little hope that we can create the Aotearoa we need,” she says.

Davidson says this is particularly the case when it comes to the ocean.

“The ongoing plunder of overfishing, pollution, and climate change is pushing the ocean to the brink,” she says.

“Instead of allowing large parts of the ocean to be torn apart for profit, as successive governments have done, the Green Party has a bold, achievable, and brilliantly simple plan: cover large parts of Aotearoa’s ocean in protected areas, putting a third of the ocean off-limits to fishing, mining and other destructive industries.”

Davidson says the Green’s plan will start straight after the election, with the party making it a top priority in negotiations to have a Green Minister for Oceans and Fisheries at the Cabinet table.

“We simply cannot leave the future of the ocean in the hands of any other political party,” she says.

A Green Minister will get to work immediately on the creation of a new independent, science-led Ocean Commission to advise the government on te Tiriti-led action to protect the ocean, in much the same way as the Climate Change Commission has done on climate action.

“Advice from the Ocean Commission will provide the foundation for a new Healthy Ocean Act, which will provide a legally binding framework to create a network of marine protected areas that cover at least 30% of the ocean by 2030 and uphold te Tiriti o Waitangi,” Davidson says.

“A vote for the Green Party is not only a vote to guarantee everyone a decent income, a warm place to live, and bold climate action – but also to protect the ocean and the benefits it provides for all.

“A better Aotearoa is possible. All it takes is the political willpower to make it happen.”

Green Party co leader James Shaw adds, “Without a healthy ocean, we cannot have a healthy planet.

“It is as simple as that. We cannot have healthy communities, with food to eat, and clean air to breathe, and we cannot tackle climate change,” he says.

“The ocean is our life support system, and when that system starts to break down, it affects every one of us.

“Over the last six years, the Green Party has taken more action on climate change than all previous governments before us. The time is now to do the same for the ocean.”

Shaw says the party’s plan to protect the ocean is based on what it has achieved for climate action in Aotearoa – a legally binding target backed by independent, expert advice on the best way to achieve it.

“Our plan for a Healthy Ocean Act will do the same for the ocean that the Zero Carbon Act has done for the climate,” he says.

“It will be the centrepiece for meaningful ocean protection and create a legally binding commitment on all future governments to establish and maintain an Aotearoa-wide network of ocean sanctuaries, free from harmful human activity.”

Shaw says an Ocean Commission will be formed as quickly as possible to make sure the government gets the best possible advice on meeting the 30% target in a way that upholds te Tiriti o Waitangi and supports the ways marine ecosystems actually function.

“The Ocean Commission will then hold the government’s feet to the fire to make sure it happens,” he says.

“Over the last six years more action has been taken on conservation, waste, and climate change than ever before thanks to the work of Green Party ministers. However, without a Green Party minister responsible for the ocean and fisheries, progress is much too slow.

“Only a Green Minister for Oceans and Fisheries will transform how we treat the ocean and help fight climate change, protect the marine life we all rely on, and allow our oceans to thrive.”

A Green Party Minister for Oceans and Fisheries will:

Establish a new, politically independent Ocean Commission to work with iwi, hapū, local communities, councils, stakeholders and the public to advise the government on solutions that work for people and nature.
Pass a Healthy Ocean Act in the next three years to create a new framework for establishing marine protected areas in a way that upholds te Tiriti o Waitangi – putting in place a binding target of protecting at least 30% of the ocean surrounding Aotearoa, and helping restore the mauri of the moana.
Ban the most destructive fishing methods such as bottom trawling and set netting.
Increase our capacity to protect our waters from invasive pest species by investing in improved marine biosecurity
Create a new $100 million Moana Fund to support iwi and hapū to deliver on the marine conservation priorities

Photography: Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

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