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Australia leaps far ahead in Marine Protected Areas

Media Release, 19 November 2012 ,Wellington

Australia leaps far ahead of New Zealand in Marine Protected Areas

Australia now has marine protected areas network covering 36% of the Australian marine environment several order of magnitudes ahead of New Zealand, the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO) said today.

“Last week the Australian Government announced the addition of 44 new protected areas which will in total cover 2.3 million square kilometres,” ECO Co-Chairperson, Barry Weeber said.

“In contrast the New Zealand network covers less than 0.3 percent of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and territorial sea and just over 7 percent of the territorial sea.”

Mr Weeber said in total the Australian marine protected areas have a no-take component which covers over 13% of their marine area. “As well as prohibiting fishing these areas also prohibit mining.”

“Overall this is the largest network of marine protected areas and no-take marine reserves around the world.”

Mr Weeber said in contrast New Zealand has yet to pass revised Marine Reserves legislation which is been languishing in Parliament for over 10 years.

“Legislation to Gazette marine reserves around the Bounty, Campbell and Antipodes Islands has still not had its first reading in Parliament after being tabled in July last year.”

Mr Weeber said the Australian new reserves have been proclaimed in all of Australia's six large marine regions.

Mr Weeber said the new areas protected include the new Coral Sea Marine Reserve which covers 989,842 km2. “This area alone is nearly 80 times New Zealand’s current marine reserves and mining will be prohibited in this area.”

“The Coral Sea Marine Reserve is area that has been protected for its important biodiversity and its near pristine condition.”

Mr Weeber said that New Zealand’s South Pacific island neighbours are well ahead of New Zealand in Marine Protection.

“There are a number of other large marine protected areas in the Pacific including the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, Kiribati which covers 408,250 km2. The Cook Islands is investigating protection of over 1 million square kilometres and IUCN - the World Conservation Union is supporting this endeavour.”

ends

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