16 May 2012
EEZ Bill fails to protect the environment and will damage New Zealand's international reputation
The Local Government and Environment Committee's report back on the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf
(Environmental Effects) Bill is extremely disappointing and a lost opportunity to put in place a robust consenting
regime for the EEZ and continental shelf, according to the Environmental Defence Society.
"EDS's submission suggested comprehensive amendments to the Bill, but the minor changes recommended by the Committee do
not address its major failings," said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.
"The purpose of the Bill continues to seek to achieve a so-called "balance" between the protection of the environment
and economic development. This purpose is flawed as it doesn't recognise that in some especially sensitive ocean
environments, there are environmental limits which should not be breached, irrespective of the short-term economic
"The Bill also fails to comply with New Zealand's international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the
Law of the Sea which includes an obligation on nations to 'protect and preserve" the marine environment. This risks
damage to New Zealand's international reputation.
"In spite of strenuous submissions from a number of parties, the Bill still does not include a set of environmental
principles to guide decision-making. Decision-makers are only required to "take into account" environmental matters
alongside a shopping list of other considerations including the economic benefits of an activity.
"Another concern is the "adaptive management approach" adopted by the Bill which allows activities to proceed that would
otherwise be prohibited because of environmental risks. Such an approach is not appropriate in all circumstances,
particularly where there is a risk of irreversible environmental damage.
"I think most reasonable New Zealanders would have welcomed robust environmental controls around deep sea oil, gas and
mineral exploitation. This Bill is greenwash and will lead to activities being approved that are dodgy and high risk.
"The select committee has missed a great opportunity to come up with effective legislation and this will strengthen the
arguments of those saying that there should be no exploitation of our oceans at all. I even think some in the industry
will be dismayed because moderate green groups like EDS will be reconsidering their positions on oceans exploitation.
"EDS is extremely concerned the Bill in its current form will lead to the degradation of the marine environment and we
urge the Government to urgently rethink the Bill to meet New Zealand's international obligations and safeguard New
Zealand's oceans," Gary Taylor concluded.
Environmental Defence Society
EDS is a not-for-profit environmental organisation committed to improving environmental outcomes within New Zealand.
The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) is a professionally run, independent environmental group that was established in
1971. It brings together the disciplines of science, planning, landscape and the law.
MORE ABOUT EDS
It operates as a think-tank, providing thought leadership on key environmental issues as well as representing the
environment before councils and the courts.
EDS is located at the collaborative and business aware end of the environmental movement, seeking constructive
engagement with all sectors, to achieve good environmental and economic outcomes for all New Zealanders. It has
It also plays an education role, helping business, councils, community groups and iwi to better understand best
practice resource management. EDS runs national and regional conferences and seminars on topical issues.
EDS is a registered charity and donations to it are tax-deductible.