Offshore Industry News

New Zealand to Protect One of the World’s Largest Ocean Sanctuaries

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, announced on 28 September 2015 that his nation plans to create a South Pacific marine sanctuary the size of France, saying it would protect one of the world’s pristine ocean environments.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary would cover an area of 620,000 square kilometers about 1,000 kilometers off New Zealand's northeast coast. Announcing the plans at the United Nations in New York, Key said the Kermadec area was home to thousands of important species, including whales, dolphins, seabirds and endangered turtles.

"(It) is one of the most geographically and geologically diverse areas in the world," he said in a statement. "It contains the world's longest underwater volcanic arc and the second deepest ocean trench at 10 kilometers deep.”

The sanctuary will prevent fishing and mineral exploitation in an area where marine scientists regularly discover new marine species.

Environmental groups applauded the move, saying it added to a network of protected areas in the Pacific that now covered more than 3.5 million square kilometers.

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith said the sanctuary would require legislation and the aim was to have it in place by October 2016. He said the decision was taken now to give certainty to a Canadian company, Nautilus Minerals, which had applied for a prospecting permit covering an area that was partly within the sanctuary.

Officials would work with the company to revise its application. Dr Smith said New Zealand had committed to having 10% of coastal and marine areas conserved by 2020, and already had 9.7% of its territorial sea (within 12 nautical miles) protected.

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