Very disappointed the Kermadecs sanctuary has been abandoned

Radio NZ report:

Sir John Key’s dream of a vast ocean sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands has finally died, with work on legislation scrapped by the coalition government.

The proposal was announced in 2015 by the then-prime minister to great international fanfare but quickly ran into opposition. A backlash from fishing companies and iwi bodies saw it put on ice and ongoing opposition from the Māori Party and New Zealand First also prevented progress.

In a statement on Thursday, Fisheries Minister and NZ First MP Shane Jones said all work on the proposal would be stopped and the legislation removed from Parliament’s to-do list.

This is very disappointing. The legislation for this was supported by all 120 MPs at first reading. But then Te Pati Maori objected to it, and it stalled as they tried to get agreement. Then at the 2017 election, NZ First went with Labour partly because they would promise not to push through the sanctuary.

And now it is officially dead.

The proposed sanctuary would have been one of the largest in the world. It wouldn’t actually have negatively impacted fishing as marine sanctuaries allow fish populations to grow, and they move into non sanctuary areas. Also the level of commercial fishing in the Kermadecs was minuscule – an average of $109,000 a year.

If it was put to a vote in Parliament there would be over 100 MPs in favour. But both Te Pati Māori and NZ First have successfully blocked it and now killed it.

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