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WWF appeals to New Zealanders on Seaweek

9 March 2006

WWF appeals to New Zealanders on Seaweek

WWF–New Zealand, part of the global conservation network, is celebrating Seaweek by encouraging New Zealanders to learn more about our marine environment and develop a deeper appreciation for our marine biodiversity.

WWF is currently campaigning with its ‘Plenty more fish in the sea?’ appeal.

Bottom trawling is ripping sea beds apart. It breaks up sponge beds and destroys corals that are hundreds of years old, and ruins important habitats for fish and other species.

Over-fishing is depleting some fish stocks. We have already witnessed the drastic decline of orange roughy populations in New Zealand waters.

Our waters are our taonga — a treasure providing us with a bounty of food and economic wealth. We must act now to protect and preserve this; for us, our children and our grandchildren.

WWF encourages all New Zealanders to find out more about our marine environment and what action to take to preserve this national treasure.

More information can be found at WWF’s website www.wwf.org.nz.

NOTES:

Because of its special character, New Zealand's marine environment has been identified by WWF as one of the top global priorities for conservation action.

WWF's report, Shining a spotlight on the biodiversity of New Zealand's marine ecoregion, is available at http://www.wwf.org.nz/conservation/ShiningSpotlight.cfm. This is the first time a report has been produced that highlights the key areas for biodiversity in New Zealand's marine environment.

Marine scientists estimate that 80% of New Zealand's native biodiversity is found in the sea. And that more than half of New Zealand's marine species are found nowhere else in the world.

An estimated 22,000–23,000 species inhabit New Zealand's marine environment but fewer than 12,000 have been identified. New species are being identified with almost every research sampling effort.

Among the known marine species are:
- 126 seabirds
- 50 marine mammals
- 696 sponges
- 758 seaweeds.

New Zealand controls the world's 4th largest coastal fishing zone, earning over $1.3 billion a year in exports, employs around 10,000 people and supplies an increasing portion of New Zealand's national diet. Worldwide, marine and freshwater fisheries generate over US$130 billion annually, employ at least 200 million people, and feed billions of people reliant on fish as an important source of protein.

For more information on WWF-New Zealand's Sustainable Fisheries Programme go to http://www.wwf.org.nz/fishing.

ENDS

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