Marine Reserve Benefits

black spoted groper

No-take marine reserves are a relatively new thing in the world. 

When the scientists of Auckland University's Leigh Laboratory set out to protect the waters around their lab in the 1970's, they didn't anticipate it would create a $18.6 million benefit to the local economy (Hunt, 2008). 

The benefits of marine reserves to marine biodiversity are now well documented in New Zealand and international marine ecological literature. See our Library. Here we attempt to summarise those proven benefits. 

NZ Marine Conservation

human chainNorthland students celebrate the opening of Whangarei Harbour Marine ReserveMarine conservation in NZ has a fascinating history starting with arrival of early Māori with holistic tikanga based lore. With arrival of more people came greater pressure on the marine environment. Today, we live in a complex legislative system where biodiversity value is considered against fisheries management and economic drivers. Such as in the Resource Management Act, Coastal Management Policy, Fisheries Act and Conservation Act. NZ has been a global leader in conservation with the world's first national park at Mount Tongariro, established in 1894.

NZ also was one of the first countries to introduce biodiversity protection legislation in the sea with the Marine Reserves Act 1971. Yet, protection of our seas has seriously lagged behind terrestrial conservation. On land just over 32% of our land area is protected for conservation purposes (MfE, 2007). As of 2016, 9.5% of our territorial sea is protected in marine reserve status. But, 99.72% of this is found around the large offshore island marine reserves at the Kermadec and Auckland Islands leaving many marine ecosystems unprotected. Only 0.28% of mainland New Zealand, a total of 511 square kilometres out of 182,072 is fully protected. In our total EEZ (Economic Exclusive Zone) only 0.0042% is protected within a no take marine reserve. We clearly have a lot more to do..

Marine Protection in NZ today

marinereserves largemapMarine Protection in New Zealand is in a period of change. For a long time there has been a desire to change the legislation. The Government in 2016 released a discussion document of its proposed changes in the form of a new marine protection bill. It is highly recommended that anyone interested in marine conservation study these proposed changes, but the final form of this legislation is not clear. There has been no report on this consultation released at the time of writing this page and there is no date set for introducing the legislation into Parliament.

In the leu of major changes we are currently bound by the legislation of the Marine Reserve Act 1971 and the MPA Policy and Implementation Guide. 

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