Protect Indigenous Fishing Rights in Proposed Marine Sanctuary

Target: John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Goal: Work with Māori representatives to ensure that the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is sustainably co-managed without violating previous agreements.

Once finalized, the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will cover covering 620,000 square kilometers of Pacific Ocean northeast of New Zealand. This massive sanctuary will outlaw fishing around the Kermadec Islands to protect the richness and biodiversity of the region. While these are worthy goals, it is important to recognize that there are other interests and rights at play here. New Zealand lawmakers made plans for the sanctuary without consulting or working with the indigenous Māori people, and there are currently no plans for Māori co-management of the sanctuary.

According to a 1992 settlement, the Māori people have the right to utilize the fisheries where the sanctuary will be. However, the creation of the sanctuary will ban all fishing in the area, even traditional, sustainable fishing by the Māori. Officials from New Zealand’s Labour Party say that Māori communities haven’t been consulted and their interests have been overlooked. Trawling, mining, and large-scale commercial fishing are already prohibited around the Kermadec Islands, so current fishing levels aren’t threatening the biodiversity of the region.

The Kermadec fishery has not been heavily used by Māori fishermen, but by banning all fishing in the sanctuary, the Māori will be robbed of the chance for future development and growth. Representatives are willing to work with the founders of the sanctuary to figure out a compromise to co-manage the area so that the rights of the Māori aren’t infringed upon. The current management plan with just two Māori representatives on the board is unacceptable.

The project should have been undertaken with full cooperation and consent of the Māori people right from the start. However, it is still not too late to revise the plan and include Māori interests and rights. Call on New Zealand’s Prime Minister to withdraw his support of the sanctuary until all parties are satisfied that Māori rights won’t be infringed upon.


Dear Rt. Hon John Key,

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will cover a huge area of Pacific Ocean and islands when finalized, protecting local biodiversity and delicate ecosystems. However, the sanctuary has been mired in controversy due to the plan to completely outlaw fishing in the sanctuary, even the sustainable fishing rights promised to the Māori people in a 1992 settlement.

The goal of protecting the Kermadec Islands is a noble one, but the rights of the local Māori people must be taken into account. Trawling and mining are already prohibited, and fishing levels in the region are completely sustainable. Instead of completely outlawing fishing in the sanctuary, you must work with Māori representatives to create a co-management plan that suits everyone.

So far, the Prime Minister’s office and the Parliament have ignored complaints from the Māori community, and this is unacceptable. You must listen to the concerns of all New Zealanders and urge the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary to find a compromise that honors the Māori fishing rights while preserving the biodiversity of the region.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Steve Daggar

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  1. Jenna Miles says:

    There is no such thing as sustainable or humane fishing.
    if you wouldn’t do it to a human or even dog, don’t do it to a fish.

  2. Dr. Tony DeLia says:

    Carolyn Welch, you have your priorities far out of wack. The Maori can easily live without fishing which I am sorry to tell you, there is no humane form of.

    That is unless you care nothing about animal suffering and maintenance of pristine ecosystems.

    If a native people somewhere on this planet had child molestation, child torture and child killing as a “cultural tradition” would you fight for it to be allowed even if there is no need for it?

  3. Dr. Tony DeLia says:

    I urge others not to sign this letter.

    I will personally be writing a letter to Prime Minister Key thanking the New Zealand parliament for a rare act of prioritizing ecosystem protection over all other interests.

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