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Forest & Bird says large-scale marine protection needed

Forest & Bird says large-scale marine protection needed

Forest & Bird says the announcement of new marine reserves around three Sub-Antarctic Islands is positive news but the real figures about New Zealand’s marine protection are an international embarrassment.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith says the new marine reserves mean 9.5 per cent of New Zealand’s territorial sea is now protected.
However, Forest & Bird Seabird Advocate Karen Baird says less than 1 per cent of the seas in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone are protected by marine reserves.

“The figure of 9.5 per cent sounds impressive, but that’s only the proportion of the territorial sea, which extends out to 12 nautical miles from New Zealand’s coastline. Dr Smith is forgetting that New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone covers more than four million square kilometres of water. A tiny fraction of that is now protected – less than 1 per cent.”

Forest & Bird believes large-scale marine protection is needed to save whole ecosystems from fishing, mining, oil drilling and other exploitation.

“We would like to see the reserve around the Kermadec Islands north-east of New Zealand expanded to create a significant ocean sanctuary. If a sanctuary covered the EEZ around the islands, the total proportion of marine protection in New Zealand’s EEZ would increase to 15 per cent. This would come at little economic cost as the Kermadecs are so remote that little fishing happens there.

“Fifteen per cent would be something to boast about. But less than 1 per cent is a drop in the ocean,” Karen Baird says.


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