It will be a sad day when the Government unilaterally removes indigenous and commercial rights, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said.

He was commenting on the breakdown of talks between Te Ohu Kaimoana and the Government over its declaration of the Kermadecs Ocean Sanctuary without consultation or recognition of the existing rights.

“Most New Zealanders will see the fundamental unfairness in the removal of the rights of citizens, even if it is in the name of international conservation,” Mr Clement said.

“Along with most New Zealanders, the seafood industry supports ocean protection.  For this reason in 2007 industry, Maori and Government agreed to set-aside 30 percent of our 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as a no-take area for trawling and dredging, including the entire Kermadec region.  At the time these seabed sanctuaries, were the largest Marine Protected Areas in the world, covering an area more than four times that of New Zealand.

“The Government’s extension of the existing closure at the Kermadecs to all forms of fishing does not offer any additional biodiversity protection from fishing – it will simply hand the tuna resources that enter this area to other nations fishing outside of New Zealand’s EEZ.

“There simply has to be a better way - one that ensures that we continue to conserve our marine resources for the future, one that is equitable, and one that also enables New Zealanders to continue to sustainably use the renewable resources in our large marine area.

“We urge the Government to show goodwill and to continue to work to reach an agreeable outcome.”