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Call For Ocean Protection

NEW ZEALAND - A study commissioned and released by WWF New Zealand (NZ), in collaboration with Colmar Brunton polling, has revealed that New Zealanders want more than a third of their oceans protected in marine reserves - a 100-fold increase on current levels.

The research found that more than nine in ten New Zealanders (96 per cent) want more of NZs oceans to be protected in no take marine reserves- areas set aside as off limits for extractive activities such as fishing and mining.

Commenting on the findings of the research, WWF- NZ Marine Programme Manager, Rebecca Bird said, NZs oceans are home to a globally significant diversity of wildlife and habitats, and WWF is campaigning for a national network of marine reserves to safeguard our unique marine biodiversity.

The research shows that protection levels for our seas are a drop in the ocean compared to the scale of protection New Zealanders want. Currently marine reserves cover a tiny percentage of our oceans.

For marine wildlife to be protected and thrive, the government needs to respond to New Zealanders views and create more reserves that will act as national parks for the sea, said Ms Bird.

Strong public support

New Zealanders attitudes to marine protection have remained constant over the last few years. On average the public believe around 36 per cent of their oceans should be protected.

WWF- NZ is calling on the Government to reinstate the stalled Marine protected areas process and bring about the marine protection New Zealanders want to see. Despite many years of promises by successive governments, very little progress has been made towards the governments own target of protecting ten per cent of the marine environment in marine reserves.

Ms Bird continued, The proportion of our oceans protected in marine reserves is wholly inadequate to safeguard our marine environment and wildlife. NZs oceans are under pressure from commercial and recreational fishing, from pollution, and from new threats such as exploration for oil and gas.

The research reaffirms that as a nation, New Zealanders value our oceans, and we are conservation-minded people. With a general election looming, the government should seize the opportunity to respect the views of the vast majority of New Zealanders by taking action now to protect our seas Ms Bird concluded.

the Fish Site Editor

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