© Darryl Torckler



MPAs are Marine Protected Areas. They're the conservation parks of the ocean!

These areas are protected from extractive impacts, such as fishing and mining. However, people can still swim in and enjoy these areas.

For MPAs to provide full benefits, we must also prevent pollution from land-based sources and have effective management, monitoring, and governance systems in place.

When MPAs are created in an effective network, they help our ocean to be resilient to climate change, protect biodiversity, and can provide the foundation for sustainable fisheries.

MPAs support fisheries through the ‘spill over’ of fish from inside the area swimming outside - this is why you often see fishermen fishing along the boundaries of MPAs. They also benefit fisheries through allowing fish to grow to their maximum size, producing exponentially more eggs than smaller fish. Many of these eggs will travel outside the MPA and populate other areas.

Did you know?
As fish grow larger, they put more effort into reproduction. This means bigger fish produce bigger eggs - and more of them!

© Darryl Torckler


Aotearoa’s ocean is a treasure trove of dolphins, whales, fish, seabirds, corals, sponges, and so much more. As an island nation, we are identified by our ocean, and it is intertwined with identity, whakapapa, and well-being for Māori. The ocean produces food and oxygen, regulates our climate, and supports many livelihoods. Every single life on our planet is dependant on the ocean.

But, our ocean is in crisis due to human activity: unsustainable practices, overfishing, and pollution. Global climate emissions significantly add to the problem. The ocean is becoming warmer and more acidic, leading to increasing dead zones, invasive species, and more. Some places, once teeming with life, are now completely barren. Others are choked with sediment and have lost their key living habitats, such as mussel beds.

It doesn’t have to be this way! We need to create Marine Protected Areas that conserve at least one third of each habitat within a network of effectively managed areas. We believe our network of MPAs should uphold the rights of indigenous and local communities and include Māori cultural practice.

The Global Ocean Alliance is calling for 30% of our global ocean to be protected by 2030. So far, 22 countries have joined this call. Negotiations for a global ocean treaty are also underway to establish how we protect biodiversity in the high seas (the areas beyond national jurisdiction).

It’s essential Aotearoa is committed to reaching these goals. A thriving, resilient ocean is possible, if we work together!

Did you know?
Aotearoa’s ocean is home to around 65,000 species and is responsible for about 80% of our indigenous biodiversity.

© Darryl Torckler


We are working with government, business, industry, fisheries, iwi, hapū, and communities to ensure future generations can benefit from a thriving and resilient ocean.

WWF strongly advocates for our government and other key stakeholders to work in true partnership with tangata whenua to find effective pathways to ensure we secure a healthy ocean. This includes contributing actively on science and policy processes.

WWF-New Zealand also supports Māori, and the wider community, to exercise tino rangatiratanga/self determination and kaitiakitanga/guardianship over their marine resources because traditional guardians and communities that live close to their valuable resources are best placed to protect and manage them.


View Changing Tides: Tai Tōrua, our recent webinar series. These webinars gathered together a range of experts, including Māori, researchers, and key stakeholders to discuss ocean resilience and marine protection.

Watch our magical Stories of the Sea series: a collection of animated tales of Aotearoa’s past ocean abundance.

Did you know?
Less than 1% of our marine and coastal biodiversity is fully protected compared with over 30% of our land.

© Darryl Torckler


Your support makes this work possible. By working together, we can create the changes needed to restore biodiversity and achieve a healthy, thriving ocean for future generations.

Sign our petition to save deep sea corals

Deep sea corals take hundreds of years to grow - but only minutes to destroy.

We're calling on the government to ban bottom trawling on seamounts, which destroys these taonga.

Sign the petition

Make a marine reserve proposal

Your local community group can start their own marine reserve proposal.

Find out how on this great website from Mountains to Seas Conservation Trust.

Visit the website


We want to hear from you. We regularly poll the public so we can understand the level of support for marine protection, including the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary.

Your voices are heard! We consistently find that 80-90% of you support the proposed Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary and marine protection. In fact, most people believe areas of our ocean should be protected, which you can see in the graphs below, showing results from our January 2020 survey.

Survey question: Do you support areas of our ocean being protected from fishing, mining and other impacts to conserve nature and build resilience to climate change?

Survey question: What proportion of our ocean should be protected from fishing, mining and other impacts to conserve nature and build resilience to climate change?

If you're interested in what else we found, you can access the 2005 results here and the 2011 results here. The results from our most recent Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary survey, conducted in January 2020 are available here

Huge thank you to Darryl Torckler for providing the images displayed on this page. They are, from top to bottom:

  • Blue Maomao fish resting in Trinity Cave, Mokohinau Islands, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand
  • New Zealand Fur Seal, Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand
  • Northern Scorpion Fish (Scorpaena Cardinalis), Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand
  • Large old Snapper named Monkey-Face with school of Kingfish, Goat Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand