Marine reserves

The Herald reports:

Conservation Minister Nick Smith says he aims to establish a record number of around the coast this year as protecting the offshore environment becomes his top priority.

Dr Smith said that if he successfully signed off eight reserves within this financial year “it will be an all-time record”.

The minister yesterday released reports which showed the value of two marine reserves in Nelson. Some fish stocks such as blue cod had increased by a factor of 40 in Tonga Island Marine Reserve over 20 years. Crayfish stocks had increased by a factor of seven. …

Historically, most of the Department of Conservation’s focus has been on protecting land.

But because 70 per cent of this country’s native species were found in the ocean, Dr Smith said he was placing more emphasis on offshore projects.

“The marine environment is the new frontier for conservation and it’s an area I do want to make more progress this year,” he said.

The National-led Government has a goal of having 10 per cent of New Zealand’s waters covered by marine reserves.

Marine reserves are actually good for fishing also, as it allows stocks to grow, and then they move into areas where you can fish them 🙂

The addition of the new reserves would mean that 9.56 per cent of its territorial waters – the area out to 12 miles from the coast – was protected.

This figure was considered misleading by some.

Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes said that if the entire Exclusive Economic Zone was taken into account, just 0.41 per cent of New Zealand waters was a no-take zone.

In comparison, a third of New Zealand’s land was protected by DoC.

Mr Hughes has tabled a bill that would establish a reserve in the Kermadec Islands.

Dr Smith said greater research was required on the economic losses and conservation gains of the proposal, which would be the the world’s largest no-fishing zone.

Personally I’m a supporter of the proposed Kermadec Islands marine reserve.

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