Environment Minister Amy Adams says the key goals on oceans pushed by New Zealand at the Rio+20 conference in Brazil have been included for discussion in the summit’s outcome document.
“This is a great step and shows that the international community recognises the need for urgent collective action to address the state of our oceans,” Ms Adams says.
“This is an area that we believe can deliver real and substantial economic, social and environmental global benefits.
“The text in the outcome document commits to further improvement of regional fisheries management, and actions to crack down on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
The outcome document also endorses the United Nation’s process to assess the health of the oceans, and locks in the global goal of having 10 per cent of the world’s oceans in marine-protected areas.
New Zealand is particularly concerned about harmful fisheries subsidies, Ms Adams says.
“These only add to the worsening state of global fish stocks, distort trade and undermine sustainable development.
“Some governments subsidise new fishing boats when the world already has too many, some subsidise fishing industries that are targeting already over-fished stocks, and others even give subsidies to fishing entities linked to illegal fishing.”
Tackling government subsidies for fossil fuels is another area of New Zealand’s focus that has seen some progress at Rio.
Ms Adams says that while New Zealand supported stronger commitments in this area, the Rio+20 text nevertheless represents further international recognition of the importance of fossil fuel subsidy reform by all UN members.
“Fossil fuel subsidy reform is becoming an important internationally, as we’ve seen from a number of civil society campaigns in the lead up to the conference.
“Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term would deliver significant benefits for a greener economy and the climate.
“We are mindful that reform will have consequences for poorer populations, and needs to be done progressively, but money spent on fossil fuels is huge.
“This is money that could be spent on other sustainable development priorities. Some countries spend more on fossil fuel subsidies than they do on health or education.”