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Open ocean marine reserves needed to save oceans

December 29, 2001 - Wellington

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Open ocean marine reserves needed to save our oceans

As part of its “I (love) marine reserves” campaign, Forest and Bird is calling for marine reserves to be established over up to 20% of the open ocean.

“Marine oceanic reserves are needed to protect seabirds, the amazing undersea life in seamounts and fishstocks,” said Eric Pyle, Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager. Marine scientists around the world are calling for 20% of the oceans to be protected in no-take marine reserves.

Mr Pyle said New Zealand’s open water sea communities have been heavily impacts by trawling and other fisheries in the last 20 years. Now is the time to act to protect our marine biodiversity for future generations.

Oceanic marine reserves are needed to protect important areas for seabirds. Recently a New Zealand longline fishing boat caught over 300 seabirds on a single fishing trip. This level of carnage could be reduced by creating marine reserves where seabirds are most active, including their feeding areas.

The amazing animals and plants on seamounts need protecting in marine reserves. Currently a new species to science is identified every two days, mostly through fishing trawls which destroy sea life on the ocean floor. Marine species may become extinct even before they are even identified or we even know they exist.

Oceanic marine reserves are needed to provide safe breeding and feeding areas for commercial fish and other species. Feeding and spawning aggregations that are often targeted by large fishing boats. Scientists now know that fish grow bigger in marine reserves and that bigger fish produce more young, which can result in greater recruitment and more fish. It is important that there are areas of the oceans reserved to allow fish to grow big and produce lots of young.

All New Zealand’s marine reserves have been created in the coastal environment. We need to extend our thinking to the ocean. Just like parts of our coast, our ocean needs areas that are reserved for nature.

Ends

Notes on the significance for conservation of New Zealand’s seabirds

New Zealand is the seabird capital of the world, with more endemic albatross and petrel species than any other country. Because of the large number of seabirds endemic to New Zealand it is particularly important that New Zealand develops oceanic marine reserves to protect the seabirds. Numbers of some albatross have declined by 90% in 60 years. This decline in numbers is thought to be caused by long line fishing.

Scientists now know many of the main seabird feeding areas and other areas where seabirds are particularly active. These areas include the tops of underwater mountains and the southern convergence zone. These areas need protection in marine reserves.

Aims of Forest and Bird’s I „Zmarine reserves campaign

- Forest and Bird seeks 20% of our seas being protected by a network of no-take marine reserves

- To gain government commitment to produce a draft plan and implementation strategy for an integrated network of marine reserves by June 2002.

- Create a marine park on Auckland’s Wild West Coast, including a Ramsar (wetland of international importance) site at Kaipara Harbour, West Auckland.

- Create of a marine protection system, including marine reserves, for the Fiords of Fiordland.

- Completion of the revision of the Marine Reserves Act and an Act that sets out an easier process for securing marine reserves.

- To raise awareness of the declining health of our seas.

Forest and Bird’s recognises the role Maori fisheries management tools, such as rahui, taiapure and mataitai can play in enhancing biodiversity and that these can be complementary to no-take marine reserves.

New Zealand needs more marine reserves

Marine reserves protect approx 0.1 percent of our EEZ.

Only 4% of New Zealand's territorial sea (area inside 12 nautical miles from the shore) is protected by marine reserves.

The Kermadec Islands Marine Reserve makes up over three quarters of the 4% total. The Kermadec Islands are about 930 kilometres (400 nautical miles) north-east of the Bay of Islands.

If the Kermadec Islands Marine Reserve is excluded, less than 1% of New Zealand's mainland coastline is protected by Marine Reserves.

Current marine reserves

1. Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve (1981). North-east of Whangarei.

2. Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (1975). Near Leigh, Auckland.

3. Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve (1995). Just north of Auckland.

4. Motu Manawa-Pollen Island Marine Reserve (1995). Waitemata Harbour, Auckland.

5. Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve (1992). South-eastern end of Mercury Bay, Coromandel Peninsula.

6. Mayor Island (Tuhua) Marine Reserve (1992). North-east of Tauranga Harbour.

7. Te Tapuwae o Rongokako (1999). Just north of Gisborne.

8. Te Angiangi Marine Reserve (1998). Cape Kidnappers, East Coast.

9. Kapiti Marine Reserve (1992). 50 kilometres north of Wellington.

10. Long Island-Kokomohua Marine Reserve (1993). Queen Charlotte Sound

11. Tonga Marine Reserve (1993). Abel Tasman National Park.

12. Westhaven (Te Tai Tapu) Marine Reserve (1994). North-west coast of the South Island. The marine reserve and adjacent wildlife management reserve protect one of New Zealand's largest and most unspoiled estuaries.

13. Pohatu Marine Reserve (1999). Flea Bay, Banks Peninsula.

14. Piopiotahi Marine Reserve (1993). Fiordland. Both this reserve and Te Awaatu have a unique underwater environment created by a layer of tea-coloured freshwater which sits on top of the salt water. This allows deep water species such as black and red corals and sea pens, normally found on the deeper continental shelf, to live in shallower water.

15. Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut) Marine Reserve (1993). Fiordland.

16. Kermadec Islands Marine Reserve (1990). It is New Zealand’s largest marine reserve. It is approximately 400 nautical miles north-east of the Bay of Islands. It surrounds the 4 main islands in the Kermadec group.

Contact: Eric Pyle, Conservation Manager Tel. 04 233 2993 (home), 025 227 8420


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