World’s largest marine protection areas will exist forever from today

The world’s largest marine protection areas were set in place forever today. This is cause for all New Zealanders to celebrate, said fishing industry leaders.

“This is the largest marine area in the world to be closed for biodiversity protection. It officially passes into regulation today, 15 November 2007 and it will be in place for our children, our grandchildren and beyond. All Kiwis can be proud of New Zealand’s leadership in this bold move,” Mr Clement, CEO of the Deepwater Group said.

The protection of these seabed habitats was an initiative driven by the New Zealand commercial fishing industry, which was taken up by the New Zealand government, Mr Clement said. The government worked co-operatively with Industry to develop the final Benthic Protection Areas (BPA) plan - a massive closure to bottom trawling that is unequalled anywhere else in the world.

The regulations mean that 17 BPAs within the New Zealand EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) will be closed to bottom trawl fishing methods, including dredging, in perpetuity. These areas comprise over 1.2million km2 of seabed, an area equal to about 30% of the EEZ - more than four times the area of New Zealand itself.

Taking into account existing seamount closures, 32% of the EEZ is now closed to protect the benthic habitats. Also protected are 88% of all known active hydrothermal vents and more than half (52%) of all seamounts in New Zealand waters. These closed areas focus on seabed, or benthic, ecosystems that are for the most part pristine, are representative of the diverse benthic habitats and biodiversity across the whole EEZ and will provide a unique untouched landscape for future generations to enjoy.

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