Category Archives: Marine Protected Area

New Zealand To Create One of the Largest Marine Protected Areas in the World

Spanning almost 240,000 square miles, New Zealand’s new Kermadec ocean sanctuary will be one of the largest and most significant fully protected ecosystems in the world.

The sanctuary will be located approximately 620 miles north-east of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean and will expand over an existing protected marine area surrounding the Kermadec Islands. It will be 35 times bigger than the combined area of New Zealand’s existing 44 marine reserves, twice the size of New Zealand’s landmass and will cover 15% of its exclusive economic zone.

This area is considered critical for biodiversity with 150 kinds of fish, 35 species of whales and dolphins, three of the world’s seven endangered sea turtles, more than six million seabirds from 39 different species and many creatures unique to the area such as corals, shellfish and crabs.

Additionally, the area is geologically significant, housing the world’s longest chain of underwater volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench at over 6 miles.

One of the most important protections for the ocean sanctuary will be a ban on commercial and recreational fishing, along with oil, gas and mineral prospecting, exploration and mining. New Zealand plans to monitor the protected are via navy and satellite technology. The government hopes to establish the sanctuary next year. New Zealand prime minister John Key said:

“The Kermadecs is a world-class, unspoiled marine environment and New Zealand is proud to protect it for future generations. 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.”

The new Kermadec sanctuary will join three other key areas in the Pacific ocean, protected by the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

Kermadec Map

Featured image by Joanna Penn / CC BY 2.0

Australia’s Ban on Dumping in the Great Barrier Reef

A step forward for the Great Barrier Reef is a step forward for conservation.

Earlier this year, the Australian government banned dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. In November, the government extended the ban outside the park, to include the entire World Heritage Area, where 80% of the dumping had occurred closer to the shore.

This closed a legal loophole that would have allowed 46 million cubic meters of seabed to be dug up and dumped in the fragile and biodiverse ecosystem. The Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 134 species of sharks and rays, over 30 species of marine mammals, six of the world’s seven species of threatened marine turtles, as well as 411 kinds of hard coral and one-third of the world’s soft corals.

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said:

“For everyone around the world who cares about the Reef, this is a moment to savor.”

Featured image by Kyle Hovey / CC BY-ND 2.0

One Step Closer to Ending Great Barrier Reef Dumping

We are now one step closer to protecting one of the most magnificent and biodiverse places on Earth: the Great Barrier Reef.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee has voted to continue pressuring Australia to deliver on its promise to restore the reef, making it only a matter of months before we see a full ban on dumping there.

This feat was made possible because of the support of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. More than 500,000 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) supporters from 177 countries called on world leaders to defend the reef.

UNESCO’s decision requires Australia to deliver effective and sustained protection of the Great Barrier Reef from reckless industrialization, pollution and other threats. To monitor, Australia must provide reports on its progress, with its first report due in 18 months.

WWF expects that a full ban on dumping in the reef’s World Heritage waters will become real in a few months. Director General of WWF International Marco Lambertini states:

“Australia has promised to prioritize the health of the reef over damaging activities like dumping dredge spoil. UNESCO will be watching to ensure that the condition of the reef improves in coming years, as will the 550,000 WWF campaign supporters and millions of people worldwide who are deeply concerned and want to see a stop to industrial destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.”

In the decision, the World Heritage Committee expressed continued concern about the decline of reef habitats and wildlife populations. The committee also warned of the reef’s poor overall outlook due to long-term threats of pollution and climate change, calling for necessary action to protect this beautiful ecosystem.

Photo by gjhamley / CC BY 2.0
Photo by gjhamley / CC BY 2.0

Featured image: Tchami / CC BY-SA 2.0