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Environmental sustainability is central to our national identity. This government is working to preserve our environment for future generations, and is committed to using and developing resources in a sustainable way.

New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends from 12 to 200 nautical miles offshore and is one of the largest in the world. The EEZ has a wealth of natural biodiversity values, and great potential for future economic opportunities such as seabed minerals and energy generation. It is in the interests of all New Zealanders to harness this potential while managing the environmental effects in a sustainable way.

We manage some things well. We have a comprehensive and world-renowned system for fisheries quota management, and our marine transport and safety legislation reflects international best practice. There are, however, areas for improvement. In particular, there are gaps and inconsistencies in our legal framework for managing the EEZ.

The laws we have at the moment are focused on existing activities, such as fisheries and transport. We need to prepare for new types of activity in the EEZ and fill any gaps in regulating environmental effects. Although pressures are not yet urgent, we have a window of opportunity now to get the right systems in place before problems start to arise.

I encourage you to make a submission on this discussion paper and contribute to our consideration of these important issues. Thank you.

Hon David Benson-Pope

Minister for the Environment