New Zealand Prime Minister John Key recently announced at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that the government is planning to create an ocean sanctuary in the South Pacific Ocean.
The sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest, with plans to make the sanctuary off the coast of NZ where it would provide shelter to the mammals, fish, and turtles that live there.
Prime Minister Key said in a statement: “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.”
Watch the Euronews Discover report No Fishing, No Mining In Our Future Large Ocean Sanctuary:
The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will cover 239,000 square miles (620,000 square kilometers), making it 50 times bigger than NZ’s current biggest national park in Fiordland. It includes seas northeast of NZ in the Kermadec region, and covers an area roughly the size of France.
“It will cover 15 per cent of NZ’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,” Key said.
It contains the world’s longest underwater volcanic arc and second deepest ocean trench at 10 km deep, he added.
The NZ Government will forgo any potentially lucrative mining royalties when the area becomes The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, which establishes a no-take, fully-protected zone preventing all fishing and mining in the area. It is believed there are significant silver deposits in the area, but they are so deep the logistics of mining would be too costly.
“NZ 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. 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,” Key said.
“Creating protected areas will support not only our own fisheries, but those of our Pacific neighbors, adding to NZ’s efforts to help grow Pacific economies through the responsible management of their ocean resources,” he added.
According to The Guardian, the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully protected areas. It includes the second-deepest ocean trench, deeper than the height of Mt. Everest, and an arc of 30 underwater volcanoes — the largest anywhere on Earth.
Pew’s campaign director Bronwen Golder told the BBC:
It’s an extraordinary achievement for all New Zealanders, and for the people of the Pacific Islands.
WWF-NZ’s CEO, Chris Howe, said in a statement: “We congratulate the government for taking decisive action to protect this incredibly special area from mining and fishing. This decision puts NZ back at the forefront of marine protection on the global stage.”
The new sanctuary will join the list of similar sanctuaries, including the Coral Sea Marine Sanctuary and the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.