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More Knowledge On Marine Environment Needed

26 June 2000

MORE KNOWLEDGE ON MARINE ENVIRONMENT NEEDED

A better understanding of New Zealand’s marine biodiversity is needed to adequately manage the increasing pressures on our marine environment, the New Zealand Conservation Authority said today.

It has welcomed the Government’s new funding for marine biodiversity research, and for the development of an integrated ocean management strategy for New Zealand.

“Our marine area remains, effectively, a blank on the map,” said NZCA chairman, Sir Duncan McMullin.

“It is 15 times larger than our landmass, has much greater biodiversity, and contains higher mountains, larger ‘rivers’, and more active volcanoes than on land. Yet we know only a fraction about what it might contain.”

“New Zealand has sampled less than one two-millionth of its seafloor, and most of this has been in shallower waters.”

“We know so little of our marine biodiversity that taxonomists currently identify approximately six new species every fortnight. Many of these species may have economic or medicinal value.”

Sir Duncan said proper management would only be possible with more detailed scientific information.

“There is clearly an urgent need for more marine biodiversity research in New Zealand to allow us to manage the increasing pressures on the marine environment, coming from fisheries, tourism, recreation, and pollution.”

“The extra $14.1m announced by the Government in its recent Biodiversity Package is a welcome step in the right direction.”

He said the $2.5m for developing an ocean management strategy was also a positive move, as it would help co-ordinate the tangle of legislation that presently relates to the marine environment.

The NZCA is an independent body that represents the public’s long-term interest in conservation at a national level. It provides the Minister of Conservation and the Department of Conservation with independent, expert advice on national conservation planning, policy and management issues.

For more information, please contact the Manager of the New Zealand Conservation Authority, Catherine Tudhope, at 04-4710726.

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