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New proposed marine protection in the south east of New Zealand will be a significant win for the environment, says Forest & Bird.

Photos of wildlife found in the area are available here.

“This proposal will see New Zealand gain our largest inshore marine reserve to date,” says Sue Maturin, Forest & Bird’s Otago-Southland regional manager. “That’s great news, particularly since the whole south east of New Zealand is such an important area for marine life.”

The Bobbys Head reserve – a 9600 hectare area – would protect rare examples of volcanic rocky reefs, sea caves and sea weed gardens.

“We’ll also gain a marine reserve right on Dunedin’s doorstep by St Clair beach. That’s a remarkable opportunity for a place already known as the wildlife capital of New Zealand,” she adds.

“Overall the proposed package of protections in Network 1 gets us about halfway to what we need in the region,” says Ms Maturin. “There are still significant gaps, with some of the best areas of biodiversity and the best canyon left unprotected.”

“But given the fraught and compromised marine forum process, this is a very significant and positive outcome. The other option on the table for Government – Network 2 – was woefully inadequate and would have been an absolute travesty, and we’re very pleased that it hasn’t been chosen by the Government today.”

“This should be seen as a first step. We’d like to see this marine protection become reality as soon as possible, with the opportunity for further improvement in the region. Such protection measures still need to be rolled out around most of the rest of the country.”

“Internationally, New Zealand has an abysmal record of marine protection, with only 0.4% of our sea area protected in no-take marine reserves. We need a clear goal to protect 30% of our ocean area in representative no-take marine reserves.”

Note: Network 1 proposes six marine reserves (4.5% or 404 km2 of the total area) and five other areas of partial protection (9.7% or 862 km2 of the area). Network 2 was a proposal for three marine reserves (2.35% or 210 km2 of the area) and two other areas of partial protection (1.75% or 156 km2 of the area).

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