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Oil Spills in New Zealand's Territorial Waters: Fence at the Top of the Cliff?

Over the last four decades, there have been many catastrophic oil spills in the marine environment and these larger oil spills have often caused environmental devastation especially if they occurred in the coastal marine area. Serious ecological damage can also be caused from operational discharges, ballast and bilge water, from ships within territorial waters. Until now New Zealand has only had relatively minor oil spillages in its coastal waters, primarily from ships' discharge or accidental leaks in port. The possibility however of a major oil spill occurring within our coastal area is considerably higher today than 20 years ago as there has been a significant increase of all types of oil tankers/bulk carriers/container ships to New Zealand. New Zealand is an island nation that relies heavily on the marine environment for commercial operations such as fisheries and tourism and many New Zealanders enjoy recreational, aesthetic and spiritual ties to the coastal marine area. The sustainability of our territorial sea is therefore of paramount importance. A major oil spill could cause widespread ecological damage, cripple or destroy marine/tourism operations and ensure that the human values associated with the coast are lost, possibly for many years. The research reported here addresses the issue of oil spill preparedness and response in New Zealand's waters. A combination of a review of New Zealand's international commitments and domestic legislation and two case studies of high profile oil spills: the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve and the Jody F Millennium are used. The research identifies whether the present environmental legislation, that promotes sustainable management, is proactive in the prevention of a major oil spill and concludes that the New Zealand approach reflects a relatively strong Sustainable Imperative position rather than one of Sustainable Development. In implementation it relies heavily on co-management integrated at the regional council level.
Type of thesis
Hoeberechts, V. A. (2006). Oil Spills in New Zealand’s Territorial Waters: Fence at the Top of the Cliff? (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2406
The University of Waikato
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