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Conservation minister slammed for branding marine protection commitments “an aspiration, not an obligation”

Wednesday 19 Jun 24 12:15pm

Media release | The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) New Zealand has hit back at Conservation Minister Tama Potaka’s outrageous claim that protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030 is purely “an aspiration”.

Speaking to Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday, Potaka was asked how the Government intends to meet its commitment to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 in the wake of its recent decision to scrap the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary.


Potaka described this global target as “an aspiration” and told the Committee there was “not an obligation on this Government to deliver it” – citing the need to first consider how much achieving the target of ’30 by 30’ would cost.


New Zealand signed onto the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in December 2022, and the High Seas Biodiversity Treaty in June 2023. These global treaties under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and UN Convention on the Law of the Sea include an explicit goal to protect 30% of Earth’s oceans by 2030.


“It’s absolutely outrageous that our Conservation Minister would claim New Zealand doesn’t have an obligation to meet the global goal of protecting 30% of our ocean by 2030,” says WWF-New Zealand’s CEO Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb.


“New Zealand signed up to the ‘30 by 30’ commitment in good faith – and, as with any international agreement, having considered the costs and prospects of implementing it. We now have a responsibility to the international community – and to future generations of Kiwis – to honour our word. Our international environmental commitments are also directly referenced in a number of our Free Trade Agreements.


“Our ocean’s health is in crisis, yet the Minister strangely thinks that marine protection is not a priority. Our grandchildren will face the true cost of our inaction when we no longer have any snapper to eat because we’ve plundered our ocean for short-term profits,” she says.


“In the 1970s, New Zealand was a global leader in ocean conservation, but we have fallen out of step with the rest of the world. Aotearoa is now at the bottom of the pack with the likes of Russia and China in terms of how much of our ocean territory we protect," says Dr Kingdon-Bebb.


“These latest ridiculous comments from a Minister who seems quite unaware of his portfolio responsibilities and New Zealand’s international commitments are only going to turn us into more of a pariah on the world stage.”

Related Topics: Politics


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