Safeguarding Our Oceans

By Kate Mulcahy, Raewyn Peart and Abbie Bull

Safeguarding Our Oceans

New Zealand is fortunate to have a very large and biodiverse marine area, hosting over 17,000 known marine species, with many thousands yet to be discovered. But this rich variety of marine life is coming under increasing pressure. Three endemic marine mammals are threatened, as are over sixty per cent of ocean-going seabirds and many species of sharks and marine invertebrates. 

Historically, New Zealand has achieved significant success in marine protection. But today the country is far behind international best practice. Fiordland is the only mainland coastal biogeographic region which has more than one per cent of its area safeguarded by marine reserves. Several regions have no protection at all. Extensive benthic protection areas have been created in the exclusive economic zone, but these are not representative, and none are fully protected. 

This report reviews New Zealand’s current marine protection framework, developments in other countries, and international best practice. It identifies weaknesses in New Zealand’s current approaches in the context of its international obligation to achieve a representative network of marine protected areas. The report then provides recommendations for the design of new marine protection legislation, which is essential if New Zealand is to effectively manage its oceans.

Published by the Environmental Defence Society in 2012.

The book is available to download in separate chapters. Click the links below.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Chapter 1


International evolution of spatial marine protection: Chapter 2

Potential benefits of marine protected areas: Chapter 3

International approaches to marine protection: Chapter 4

Elements of international best practice: Chapter 5


Why New Zealand needs marine protection: Chapter 6

New Zealand's experience with collaborative processes: Chapter 7

New Zealand's performance compared with international best practice: Chapter 8

Legislative design considerations: Chapter 9

New Legislation options: Chapter 10

Recommendations: Chapter 11


English Marine conservation zones: Chapter 12

California Marine Life Protection Act: Chapter 13

Australian Commonwealth marine reserves: Chapter 14

New South Wales marine parks: Chapter 15

Fiordland Marine Guardians: Chapter 16

West Coast Marine Protection Forum: Chapter 17

Sub-Antarctic Marine Protection Planning Forum: Chapter 18

Ngātiwai and marine reserves: Chapter 19


New Zealand marine protected areas principles and protection standard: Appendix 1

Goals and principles for the establishment of the natinoal representative system of marine protected areas in Australian Commonwealth waters: Appendix 2



Last updated at 4:11PM on September 10, 2015