Te Ohu Kaimoana Chairman Jamie Tuuta travelled to New York on Monday (3 September 2018) as a member of the New Zealand delegation that will participate in discussions on a new international agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). The international community is discussing ways in which marine biodiversity in international waters should be managed in the future. Te Ohu Kaimoana considers that mātauranga Māori and ensuring that Māori rights are protected will form a fundamental part of that kōrero.
Te Ohu Kaimoana has previously discussed BBNJ with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT), including the ways in which Māori are able to contribute to New Zealand’s participation at the United Nations (UN) on this matter. The Right Honourable Winston Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs has since made a seat available on the New Zealand delegation for Te Ohu Kaimoana.
The UN General Assembly agreed Resolution 72/249 in December 2017 to convene an international conference to develop an agreement on BBNJ under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). UNCLOS enables coastal states to manage fisheries resources within their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). It also provides for management benefits to extend to straddling stocks. In the Aotearoa context, this applies to fisheries like Orange Roughy off the West Coast of the South Island (ORH 7A).
BBNJ is an emerging global issue that Te Ohu Kaimoana considers could once again have an impact on the marine environment generally and Iwi rights and interests. At a meeting arranged at the United Nations in 2015, The Right Honourable John Key gave the then US Secretary of State, John Kerry, an undertaking to create the 600,000sq km no-take marine protected area outside of the Kermadec Island Marine Reserve. This undertaking was in conflict with hard-fought Māori fishing rights owned by all Iwi in that part of Aotearoa’s EEZ. The ‘Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary’ issue clearly demonstrated to Māori and Te Ohu Kaimoana that events which have their genesis overseas can adversely affect Māori rights and interests in Aotearoa.
There will be two more conferences in 2019 and a fourth session is scheduled for 2020. Te Ohu Kaimoana intends to provide Iwi with a presentation and/or workshop on this issue later this year or in the first of quarter of next year. Te Ohu Kaimoana expects that it will take some time before the full extent and reach of this new agreement will be known.