Environmental groups tell Labour to stop playing politics

The Herald reports:

Environmental groups have joined forces to urge not to pull its support for the Kermadec marine sanctuary after leader Andrew Little said would review its position.

In a joint statement, five major environmental groups said they were concerned about the comments by Little, who said Labour would consider pulling its support if there was no agreement on the recognition of Maori fishing rights under the Treaty.

A marine sanctuary in the Kermadec Islands has been Labour Party policy since 2011.

The groups are Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, the Environmental Defence Society, the Pew Foundation and WWF.

Kevin Hackwell of Forest and Bird said Labour had championed a sanctuary for five years and two elections. “They now seem to be saying their own policy is a breach of fisheries rights and the fisheries settlement.”

Only Labour can argue against their own policy. They abandon doing what is right, for the opportunity to embarrass the Government.

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman said fishing quota had always been subject to regulation for conservation reasons. “The Labour Party now seem to be agreeing with the fishing industry that no-take are a breach of fisheries rights and compensation needs to be given even when no fishing is taking place.” He said that would set a bad precedent.

The reality is that commercial fishing rights in NZ are based on quota, not geography. Having some areas made marine reserves does not decrease the value of the quota. It just means it needs to be caught elsewhere.

It is possible a marine reserve could impact the ability to fulfill quota if it was a huge reserve in an area where there was lots of fishing, and you could not catch that quota elsewhere. But the  has had close to zero commercial fishing for at least a decade so the marine reserve there does not impact property rights.

Labour seems to now be arguing that everytime there is a new marine reserve, quota holders should be given compensation even though their quota rights are in no way diminished.

Asked if he was concerned it would end up in Labour’s court if it was in Government after 2017, Little said he believed there was still time for the National Government to resolve it.

“I do not believe that when they have a Treaty Negotiations Minister as talented as Chris Finlayson, they cannot come up with a creative solution to the issue.

High praise for Finlayson.

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