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Major investment in NZ's marine environment

The Budget funding for the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy includes a major investment to protect and enhance New Zealand's marine environment, says Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson. Altogether the Government will spend just over $40 million in the next five years on researching and managing marine biodiversity and marine biosecurity.

"This is a significant commitment to improve our understanding and protection of the marine environment," Mr Hodgson said. "New Zealand's marine resources are huge, but poorly understood. Our knowledge of the marine ecosystem is about as good as our knowledge of the terrestrial ecosystem was 100 or 120 years ago. We are also behind on marine biosecurity and we need to catch up. This package addresses both issues."

Funding for marine biodiversity research projects totals $14.1 million over five years. That will cover database development, analysis and research on threats to biodiversity, and research on selected marine communities including seamounts, Spirits Bay off northern New Zealand, and Antarctica's Ross Sea.

Marine biosecurity funding will total $9.8 million over five years. It will pay for surveys and re-surveys of New Zealand's nine busiest harbours to detect invasive species, assessment of the threat posed by various invasive species, ballast water monitoring, development of management methods for threats from known sources such as ballast water and hull fouling, surveillance of marine pests and development of rapid response measures against invasive species arrivals.

Mr Hodgson said a further $16.9 million would be spent over five years on marine resource management initiatives, including $11.5 million on the establishment of new marine reserves. The funding would also cover the development of an integrated oceans management strategy, an education package on marine biodiversity and regional coordination of biodiversity management.
"This country has a stunning array of marine habitats and species," Mr Hodgson said. "We want to protect and enhance that diversity for generations to come."

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