When New Zealand began developing a national oceans policy a decade ago, marine policy-makers there and elsewhere anticipated the country might enact the world's first national-level comprehensive ocean plan in its attempt to achieve EBM. However, according to Cath Wallace, senior lecturer in economics and public policy at Victoria University of Wellington, and Barry Weeber of Weeber Consultants, "The rhetoric of ecosystem-based management is used but not practiced in New Zealand." They say marine zoning is provided for in New Zealand's environmental management in its territorial sea (to 12 nautical miles), but is primarily used to provide for and control aquaculture. The nation has still not completed its oceans policy.

"In the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), New Zealand's environmental management is patchy, so mining and many other activities lack environmental controls," say Wallace and Weeber. "Law in development for the EEZ may include zoning and some degree of ecosystem-based management, but further marine protected areas are blocked until 2013."

They continue, "In practice, proposals for marine reserves, spatial management, and controls on fishing encounter vigorous opposition from commercial fishing interests and their allies. The property rights, held in individual transferable quotas (ITQs), empower opposition to conservation measures and have made the politics of spatial management and protection much more difficult. For the most part, spatially based management has been neglected in favor of stock management within quota areas." Exceptions, they note, include aquaculture areas, small local areas of Maori customary management, and a broad network of Benthic Protection Areas criticized by conservationists as primarily involving unfishable, low-biodiversity areas. (See the November 2007 issue of MPA News for a description of the network, at https://mpanews.openchannels.org/mpanews/issue/november-2007-95.)

The limited use of zoning mechanisms has been ad hoc, say Wallace and Weeber. "However, the proposed EEZ regulations, which are a cut-down version of the original Oceans Policy, may indeed introduce ecosystem-based management and zoning," they say. "We can only wait to see."

For more information

Cath Wallace, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. E-mail: cath.wallace@vuw.ac.nz

Barry Weeber, Weeber Consultants, Wellington, New Zealand. E-mail:ecowatch@paradise.net.nz