The Benefits of Marine Reserves

Where marine reserves have been established, there are many benefits for the environment and for all of us to enjoy:

Crayfish, Photo: Ian Skipworth

Crayfish, Photo: Ian Skipworth

 Crayfish Flourishing

The number and size of crayfish has increased significantly inside some of our marine reserves (e.g. Te Angiangi, Tonga Island, Piopiotahi reserves).

At Te Whanganui-a-Hei Marine Reserve, crayfish are 15 times more abundant than those in non-reserve areas.
 


Jewel anenomies, Kapiti island marine reserve. Photo: Ian Skipworth

Jewel anenomies, Kapiti island marine reserve. Photo: Ian Skipworth

Starfish, Snapper & Sea Squirts Thriving 

By not taking marine life inside marine reserves, food webs and habitats can return to more natural states. At Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve, increasing numbers of crayfish and snapper are eating kina, whose number had exploded along the heavily fished coast and reduced the abundance of seaweed, which they eat. With fewer kina, seaweeds and other creatures living on and around it, such as starfish, sponges, byrozoans and ascidians, have bounced back.


Blue Cod.Photo: A Perez

Blue Cod.Photo: A Perez

 More & Bigger Fish

The size and number of fish inside some marine reserves has increased. At Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve, the number of legal sized snapper is now 28 times that outside the reserve. In the Long Island-Kokomohua reserve, blue cod are larger and twice as abundant as they are in surrounding areas.
 


Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine reserve, Photo courtesy of DOC

Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine reserve, Photo courtesy of DOC

 

Booming Economy

Marine reserves provide a fantastic experience of our unique and greatly varied marine life. The Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve is ranked as one of the top ten dive sites in the world, attracting hundreds of divers every year to see everything from sharks and huge snapper to brightly coloured nudibranchs (sea slugs) and sponges. With the attraction of visitors to an area, marine reserves at Cape Rodney-Okakari Point, the Poor Knights Islands and Te Whanganui-a-Hei have led to booming local economies and increased land and property values. 


 

Marine reserves can benefit whole communities by uniting people in the management of reserves. Paterson Inlet (Stewart Island) works particularly well for the community as it is locally managed and the benefits spill over into the supporting mataitai reserve (customary fisheries management area).
 

New Zealand has a huge variety of marine life that needs protecting and restoring to a natural state. Just 0.3% of our waters are protected – that’s not enough. 

Support our campaign for more marine reserves!