New Zealand has revealed plans to create a marine reserve the size of France in the South Pacific. The 239,400 sq mile zone is in the Kermadec region, about 1,000km north-east of North Island, and includes a chain of islands and underwater volcanoes.
Prime Minister John Key announced plans for the new marine reserve at the United Nations General Assembly in New York earlier this week (September 29). Fishing and mining, which are considered to be big threats to the world’s oceans, will be banned in the reserve.
“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life,” Mr Key said in statement.
“As well as being home to a wide range of marine species, the Kermadec region is one of the most geographically and geologically diverse areas in the world. It contains the world’s longest underwater volcanic arc and the second deepest ocean trench at 10 kilometres deep.”
The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be twice the size of New Zealand’s landmass, and 50 times the size of the country’s largest national park in Fiordland. The government is aiming to pass legislation for the reserve next year.
“The Kermadecs is a world-class, unspoiled marine environment and New Zealand is proud to protect it for future generations,” Mr Key added.
Boat International has teamed up with leading ocean conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation to launch The Ocean Awards. Nominations for the Ocean Awards are now closed and the winners will be announced in the February issue.