New Zealand has one of the largest marine jurisdictions of any country.

NZ’s Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf exceeds 5 million square kilometres in area. Resource potential exists in offshore rock phosphate (Chatham Rise), ironsands (western coastlines of the North and south Islands), and precious, base and strategic metals (the Kermadecs), and, possibly other resources, such as placer gold, manganese nodules and crusts, and methane hydrates.

New environmental legislation and regulations have enabled science, prospecting and exploration as permitted activities, subject to standard conditions. Mining proposals are subject to environmental scrutiny and public processes for approval. That is appropriate.

That said, significant problems have emerged with the implementation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 by the Environmental Protection Authority and the related Decision-Making Committee process.

Straterra has considered the implications of the refusal of marine consent applications by Trans-Tasman Resources, and Chatham Rock Phosphate, and produced a position paper (bee below) to provide our views to the Government on what went wrong with these processes, and what could be done to enable decision-makers to approve environmentally-responsible projects. Industry does not seek a loosening of standards; what we seek is a reasonable, pragmatic, effective and efficient regulatory regime for considering marine consent applications.

The New Zealand Government is currently developing a proposal for marine protection legislation for the EEZ. Straterra is broadly supportive of the concept. The Benthic Protection Areas (BPAs) should be abolished as a first step to developing a robust process for identifying areas for partial and full protection from human activities. The BPAs were established to protect biodiversity from bottom trawling at places where there has been historically very little fishing effort, with little or no consideration of other interests, or of the biodiversity. As such, the BPAs are an example of very poor policy, and have no place in a new and comprehensive marine protection framework for the EEZ.

Straterra is currently participating in other initiatives to provide support for the offshore management of New Zealand's resources. You can read about the One Ocean project by the McGuinness Institute here. You can also find out about the Sustainable Seas project by the National Science Challenges here.