New Zealand Creates Massive Ocean Sanctuary
New Zealand Creates One Of Earth’s Largest Ocean Sanctuaries
New Zealand is pushing the limit of aquatic protected areas with their creation of a 239,000 sq mile ocean sanctuary. Commercial and recreational fishing will be completely banned, as will oil, gas and mineral prospecting, exploration and mining.
Nearly 630 miles north-east of New Zealand the Kermadec ocean sanctuary will be one of the world’s “most significant fully protected ecosystems”, the prime minister of New Zealand, John Key, told the UN general assembly in New York.
The marine reserve will encompass a collection of small islands and surrounding ocean and is considered crucial for biodiversity with researchers estimating nearly 35 species of whales and dolphins, 150 types of fish and 3 of the world’s 7 sea turtle species all inhabiting the region.
Regarding geological importance, the sanctuary encompasses the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench on Earth, sitting nearly 6 1/2 miles down – deeper than Mount Everest is tall.
Spanning twice the size of the country’s landmass, the sanctuary will cover 15% of New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone.
“The Kermadecs is a world-class, unspoiled marine environment and New Zealand is proud to protect it for future generations,” said Key. “New Zealanders value our coasts and oceans, which are an important part of our culture, economy and environment and we are committed to managing them sustainably. Creating protected areas will support not only our own fisheries, but those of our Pacific neighbors, adding to New Zealand’s efforts to help grow Pacific economies through the responsible management of their ocean resources.“
New Zealand will monitor the area via its navy and satellite technology as the proposed sanctuary will join 3 other key areas in the Pacific protected by the US, UK and Australia; combined the reserves will cover 1.3m sq miles of ocean.
The New Zealand government aims to pass legislation establishing the sanctuary next year.
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