PM announces Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary

  • John Key
Prime Minister

Prime Minister John Key has announced the creation of a 620,000 km2 Ocean Sanctuary in the Kermadec region, one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth.

“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 says.

“It will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area twice the size of our landmass, and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland.

“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.”

Establishing the sanctuary will create a no-take, fully-protected zone preventing all fishing and mining in the area, adding to the protections already in place.

Mr Key made the announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where sustainable development is a key theme.

“New Zealand welcomes the focus on the sustainability of the world’s oceans and marine resources - a goal which resonates strongly with our region where so many draw their food and livelihoods from the sea,” Mr Key says.

“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 neighbours, adding to New Zealand’s efforts to help grow Pacific economies through the responsible management of their ocean resources.”

This is on top of New Zealand’s recent commitment of $50m over three years to support sustainable fishing in the Pacific – part of New Zealand’s $1b development assistance to the region.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will form an important part of a growing network of marine protected areas across the Pacific.

Other significant marine protected areas include the US Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, the Australian Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve and the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve recently announced by the British Government.

These four areas will cover 3,503,023 km2 in the Pacific Ocean.

The Government is aiming to pass legislation enabling the creation of the sanctuary next year.

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