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Sharks

New Zealand Announces Massive Ocean Sanctuary

posted: 10/01/15
by: Danny Clemens
Relive Shark Week 2015:

New Zealand will set aside nearly a quarter of a million square miles of its exclusive economic zone as a protected ocean sanctuary, Prime Minister John Key announced this week.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will extend out 200 nautical miles from Raoul Island in the north and L'Esperance Rock in the south, covering 240,000 square miles, an area 35 times larger than the rest of the nation's sanctuaries combined.

Citing the increasing impact of overfishing and pollution, officials have completely prohibited all fishing and mining within the sanctuary; per international obligations, however, ship and air traffic and deep-sea telecommunications cables can still traverse the protected area.

New Zealand ocean
Alkalyne/iStock

"Oceans are the new frontier for environmental protection. They make up 72 percent of the globe and are home to half of the world's species, but currently only two percent is protected," Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith remarked in a news release.

"Just as our forebears set aside significant areas of our land like the Tongariro and Fiordland National Parks, we need to protect special areas of our sea like the pristine ocean around the Kermadec Islands."

Officials hope to pass all required legislation to formally establish the sanctuary by October 1, 2016.

Earlier this year, New Zealand ratified the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks, a move that will help protect vulnerable migratory sharks passing through territorial waters.

"Becoming a signatory will help New Zealand have a voice in the global conservation of sharks and will help to support and lead shark conservation efforts - in particular across the wider southwest Pacific," Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said in July.

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