19, Nov, 2012

Australia leaps far ahead of New Zealand in Marine Protected Areas

Category: ECO Inc

Australia now has marine protected areas network covering 36% of the Australian marine environment several order of magnitudes ahead of New Zealand, the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO) said today.

“Last week the Australian Government announced the addition of 44 new protected areas which will in total cover 2.3 million square kilometres,” ECO Co-Chairperson, Barry Weeber said.

“In contrast the New Zealand network covers less than 0.3 percent of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and territorial sea and just over 7 percent of the territorial sea.”

Mr Weeber said in total the Australian marine protected areas have a no-take component which covers over 13% of their marine area. “As well as prohibiting fishing these areas also prohibit mining.”

“Overall this is the largest network of marine protected areas and no-take marine reserves around the world.”

Mr Weeber said in contrast New Zealand has yet to pass revised Marine Reserves legislation which is been languishing in Parliament for over 10 years.

“Legislation to Gazette marine reserves around the Bounty, Campbell and Antipodes Islands has still not had its first reading in Parliament after being tabled in July last year.”

Mr Weeber said the Australian new reserves have been proclaimed in all of Australia's six large marine regions.

Mr Weeber said the new areas protected include the new Coral Sea Marine Reserve which covers 989,842 km2.  “This area alone is nearly 80 times New Zealand’s current marine reserves and mining will be prohibited in this area.”

“The Coral Sea Marine Reserve is area that has been protected for its important biodiversity and its near pristine condition.”

Mr Weeber said that New Zealand’s South Pacific island neighbours are well ahead of New Zealand in Marine Protection. 

“There are a number of other large marine protected areas in the Pacific including the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, Kiribati which covers 408,250 km2.  The Cook Islands is investigating protection of over 1 million square kilometres and IUCN - the World Conservation Union is supporting this endeavour.”

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For further information contact ECO Co-chair Barry Weeber, 021-738-807 or Cath Wallace on 021-891-994.

1.        ECO is the national alliance of 55 groups with a concern for the environment.  ECO has been involved in issues of resource management and land-use policy since its formation 40 years ago.

2.        Australian Minister Tony Burke (Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) press release on the Australian network of marine protected areas can be found here http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/burke/2012/mr20121116.html.  The network includes the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which was established in 1975 and covers 344,400 km2 and includes no take areas which covers more than 33 percent of the Park. The reserves in the Australian South-east region were proclaimed in 2007. 

3.        The new Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve covers 989 842 km2.  The Coral Sea is a global biodiversity hot spot, recognised for the number and diversity of large ocean predators such as sharks, tunas, marlin, swordfish and sailfish. Protecting this special part of Australia will provide a safe haven for marine life and a globally significant ocean legacy for generations to come.

4.        A copy of a map of the Australian MPAs can be found here http://www.environment.gov.au/marinereserves/pubs/map-national.pdf

5.        New Zealand has 30 marine reserves with the largest the Kermadec Islands Marine Reserve, which covers only 7480 km2.  The five marine reserves were proposed last year for the West Coast of the South Island but only cover 175km2 if all are approved at their proposed size. 

6.        The Subantarctic Islands Marine Reserves Bill was introduced by the Minister of Conservation for its first reading on 7 July 2011 but has yet to progress to Select Committee stage.  It proposes marine reserves within the territorial sea around Campbell, Antipodes and Bounty Islands.

7.        Large marine protected areas in the Pacific include:

  • Phoenix Islands Protected Area, Kiribati (Phoenix Islands) which covers 408,250 km2, and was established in 2008 covering an ocean territory roughly the size of California and 6000 meters deep.

  • Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, United States (Hawai’i and the Midway Atoll), covers 360,000 km2, was established in 2006.

  • Galapagos Marine Reserve, Ecuador (Galapagos Islands), 133,000 km2, was established in 1986.

  • Marianas Trench Marine National Monument within the Mariana Archipelago, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (USA), and cover 250,487 km2

  • Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park (formerly referred to as the Sala y Gómez Marine Park), covers about 150,000 km2 and was established in October 2010.  It is of the coast of Chile, and about 250 nautical miles from Easter Island.

       For more details on some of the large marine protected areas see http://www.bigoceanmanagers.org/

8.    IUCN, the World Conservation Union, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of the Cook Islands to support the establishment of the world’s largest marine protected area – the Cook Islands Marine Park which was announced in August 2012.  The Park is proposed to cover 1.065 million square kilometres – four times the size of mainland New Zealand. It is the largest marine park ever declared by a single country for integrated ocean conservation and management. The area includes remote atolls, high volcanic islands surrounded by fringing reefs and unspoilt fauna associated with underwater mountains and includes rare seabirds, blue whales, manta rays and several shark species.  For further information. http://www.iucn.org/about/union/members/resources/news/?uNewsID=11486

9.        In the Australian MPAs, mining activities, including petroleum exploration and development,- will not be allowed in no-take zones, anywhere in the Coral Sea marine reserve, or in the Special Purpose (Oil and Gas Exclusion) zone in the Australian South-west Marine Reserves Network.  Restrictions on mining activities also apply in Habitat Protection zones and in other areas a permit or approval by the Director of Australian Federal National Parks will be required for mining activities, including in conjunction with the assessment and approval provisions of the Australian Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

10.    The land area of New Zealand is 268,021 km2 and the territorial sea and EEZ covers more than 4,083,744 km2 (excluding Tokelau Island) and is the sixth largest marine environment in the world.  Australia has the third largest exclusive economic zone covering 8,505,348 km2.

11.    The territorial sea extends to 12 nautical miles offshore while the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) runs from 12 to 200 nautical miles offshore.