Bay News column
Our natural environment is our country’s greatest asset - there is a reason that “100% Pure New Zealand” has been our tourism slogan since 1999. National believes that economic development and environmental protection can and must go hand-in-hand.
In my portfolios of Transport and Energy and Resources we are always looking at ways we can be more environmentally responsible; whether it is our target of 90 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2025, bringing in tougher vehicle emissions standards, or electrifying Auckland’s rail network.
Last week the Prime Minister John Key announced the creation of a 620,000 square-kilometre ocean sanctuary in the Kermadec region. The Kermadecs are one of the most pristine and unique environments on earth and home to whales, seabirds, dolphins, turtles, and species of fish and marine life not found anywhere else.
The creation of this sanctuary will mean the whole area is a fully-protected, “no take” zone where all mining, and all fishing is off limits.
In the last year, we have created 10 new marine reserves around the country; in Akaroa, the sub-Antarctic, Kaikoura, and off the West Coast. New Zealand now has a total of 44 marine reserves.
The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary however is unmatched in scale. It will cover more than 35 times the combined area of our current marine reserves, and is the first time an area of our Exclusive Economic Zone will be fully protected.
This new sanctuary is part of the National-led Government’s “Bluegreen” approach of balancing environmental protection with economic development. While we recognise that our ocean resources are important for jobs and exports for industries like fishing, aquaculture, minerals and energy, we also appreciate that need to set aside special areas where nature comes first and marine life is fully protected.