The Meaning and Application of the Precautionary Principle in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone Legislation: Expert Evidence in Support of Te Kaahui o Rauru
69 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2020 Last revised: 5 Dec 2020
Date Written: Janurary 24, 2017
The precautionary principle in s 61 of the EEZ Act appears short and simple and – being relatively young – without any history or baggage to encumber its interpretation and application. However, despite the Act being only a few years old, and there having been few chances to apply it, there is indeed a number of important matters to take into account in its application. The principle itself has a lengthy history at international law, and it has been applied by New Zealand courts for many years under different laws and policies. There is thus plenty of material for useful comparison with different formulations of it.
One of the most important factors to take into account is the subject matter it is being applied to. Application in the marine environment has been widely recognised as requiring a stronger precautionary approach than other settings. This is primarily due to the fact that less is known about the marine environment itself, with more reliance for predictions of future effects on scientific modelling that is necessarily incomplete. They may represent the best scientific knowledge available today, but that itself is incomplete. Thus, legal formulations of the principle requiring stronger environmental protection have been chosen for the marine environment worldwide, and including in the EEZ Act.
The key elements to work through in applying s 61 to any given set of facts are detailed in this submission.
Keywords: EEZ, exclusive economic zone, environment, precautionary principle, marine environment
JEL Classification: K00, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation