Forest & Bird back international plan for increased marine protection

Forest & Bird says it is important that the New Zealand Government does not back down on a motion at the IUCN World Conservation Congress for New Zealand and other countries to set aside 30% of its oceans for full marine protection by 2030.

Forest & Bird, along with other NGOs and countries, will vote in favour of the proposal but is concerned that the fishing industry may have pressured the New Zealand Government to oppose the proposal.

“New Zealand signed the Law of the Sea treaty in 1982 that gives the fishing industry exclusive rights to fish in our EEZ, but only if we promised to preserve and protect the marine environment” says Forest & Bird Marine Advocate Karen Baird.

“At the moment, just 0.48% of New Zealand’s oceans are fully protected – so we’re clearly not doing a great job of adhering to that agreement.”

The proposed Kermadec Sanctuary will result in 15% of the EEZ being protected and protecting a further 15% of our oceans by 2030 is a realistic target.

New Zealand’s EEZ is home to a diverse range of unique marine habitats and species.  It supports an extraordinary variety of life and hosts migratory species such as whales, sharks and albatross, over large parts of their lives.

Effectively managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an important tool to conserve our ocean ecosystems.

Scientists have found that we need to fully protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans in order to reverse the adverse impacts they are already facing. This would also increase resilience to the impacts of climate change such as acidification and warming, and ensure the long-term health of our oceans is sustained.

Key facts:

  • New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a vast area of ocean that extends 200 nautical miles from our coast.
  • The EEZ represents 96 percent of New Zealand’s ocean environment.
  • The ability to manage the vast ocean area that surrounds New Zealand’s many islands is provided in the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which gives our government jurisdiction over the EEZ and Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) and the power to benefit from its exploitation. UNCLOS requires that these benefits come with the responsibility to protect and preserve the marine environment.