Marine Protected Areas | WWF New Zealand

Marine Protected Areas

A school of Blue maomao fish (Scorpis violaceus) swim above a bed of kelp, in a marine sanctuary ... rel=
A school of Blue maomao fish (Scorpis violaceus) swim above a bed of kelp, in a marine sanctuary where fishing is restricted off the Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand.
© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF
New Zealand’s marine environment is a priceless biological treasure that deserves special protection.
To safeguard our oceans and our marine wildlife, WWF advocates for the New Zealand government to create a comprehensive network of marine protected areas.

Setting aside a proportion of each marine habitat in marine reserves - from our rocky shores, our beaches and harbours, to our deep seas - will help to ensure New Zealanders can continue to enjoy healthy, thriving oceans.
© WWF / Bob Zuur
Albatross - photo taken by WWF marine conservation's Bob Zuur on the Our Far South trip.
© WWF / Bob Zuur

New marine protection legislation

The government is developing new marine protection legislation which is a great opportunity to enable a network of protected areas to be set up across our oceans.

But it is proposing to limit protected areas to our territorial seas which make up only 5% —a tiny fraction—of NZ oceans. This means that many wonderful deep-sea creatures and habitats will not be considered for protection. 

There is broad support for New Zealand's deep sea to be covered by the proposed legislation, and thousands of people have made submissions asking for it to be included. We will keep up pressure on the Government to listen to the people while they are developing the legislation!

Seven reasons to include the EEZ in the new MPA Legislation, March 2016 Submissions

Humpback whale
© Diego M. Garces / WWF

Why looking after our oceans is important?

New Zealand's oceans are home to an amazing variety of life, there are tens of thousands of species of seabirds, dolphins and whales, fish, corals and other wildlife. Our oceans are central to New Zealand's economy and our people's identity and way of life. 

But right now they are under threat. Iconic species such as Hectors and Maui dolphins, blue whales, sea lions and albatross and petrels are endangered, with many more species being threatened. A quarter of our fish stocks are overfished and several fisheries have collapsed.

The oceans are also becoming warmer and more acidic because of climate change. Increasingly, oil & gas and mining companies are turning to our oceans to extract resources which is putting our marine life and habitats under even more pressure. 

We need to look after our seas and marine wildlife now so New Zealanders can continue to enjoy the many benefits of having a healthty marine environment. 

While we have made some great progress with the setting up of a Kermadec Ocean Sancturary, there is still more work to do, we need a network of marine protected areas to protect the health of our oceans.

global case for marine protection

Find out more about WWF's work across the world to promote marine protection.

© Malcolm Francis
Kermadec Ocean
© Malcolm Francis

Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary

After eight years of campaigning by WWF, partners, local iwi and thousands of New Zealanders. The Government has announced it will create an ocean sancturary around the beautiful Kermadec region.  Learn more about this amazing area here!

New Zealanders' views on our oceans and marine reserves - 2005 to 2016

WWF commissioned Colmar Brunton to research New Zealanders' views on marine reserves in 2005, 2011 and 2016.  Download the reports - New Zealanders' views on threats and protection in the marine environment - for the main findings of the national survey.   

2016 poll - 76% of New Zealanders support deep ocean inclusion in MPAs


Future Seas Scenario Planning and the Establishment of a Marine Reserve Network

Future Seas is a report from WWF that sheds light on the value of marine reserves.
WWF-New Zealand initiated the Future Seas scenario planning project to look beyond the current real or perceived costs and benefits of marine reserves and explore what this protection tool could offer New Zealand in the dynamic future ahead.

As part of the project, we asked various marine environment experts - from the fishing industry to Maori representatives to eco-tour operators to environmentalists - to participate in workshops to discuss two future scenarios. Under both scenarios it became evident that marine reserves operate like an insurance investment for our marine environment and allow for greater economic and social resiliency.  
View the report and executive summary
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.