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No love for NZ's marine life on Valentine's Day

14 February 2008 - Wellington

Forest & Bird

No love for NZ's marine life on Valentine's Day

New Government guidelines issued today are a step backward in protecting the marine environment, Forest & Bird says.

Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles says the new guidelines weaken protection of New Zealand's marine environment.

"Marine reserves, where no fishing is allowed, are proven to be the most effective measure to protect the whole marine environment. Experience and research in New Zealand and internationally has demonstrated that marine reserves are the best type of protection, allowing marine life to recover and flourish."

Instead of protecting whole marine ecosystems by specifically recommending establishment of marine reserves, the guidelines propose a range of less effective measures, Kirstie Knowles says.

Kirstie Knowles says extensive consultation last year found widespread support for marine reserves, and criticism of the proposed guidelines. However, the final guidelines did not differ from the proposed guidelines - no changes were made in response to the feedback.

"The new guidelines ignore scientific consensus, international best practice and the views of marine experts in New Zealand. This is a big step backwards for protection of New Zealand's marine environment."

While New Zealand has been internationally respected as a leader in protection of the marine environment, just 0.3% of our combined Exclusive Economic Zone and coastal waters is protected under marine reserves.

Forest & Bird is calling for 10% of our coastal waters and 25% of our off-shore waters to be protected as marine reserves.


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