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Why our marine environment matters

This page provides an overview of New Zealand’s marine environment and its importance to New Zealanders.

For the latest reporting on our marine environment see Our marine environment 2016.

Extent of New Zealand’s marine environment

New Zealand has 15,000 km of coastline and is responsible for marine waters that extend 200 nautical miles beyond its shores. It has one of the largest exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the world.

NZ’s rights and obligations by marine zone

Marine biodiversity

Our marine environment supports a wide diversity of plants, animals and food resources. It is home to a large number of species that live nowhere else in the world.

Value to New Zealanders

New Zealanders value their marine environment for social, economic, spiritual and cultural reasons.

It is popular for a wide range of recreational activities such as swimming, fishing and boating. It supports important economic activities including fishing, hydrocarbon exploration, extraction of mineral deposits, tourism and biotechnology. Water is also a taonga of paramount importance to iwi/Māori.

Treaty of Waitangi [Waitangi Tribunal website]

Protecting the marine environment

The sustainable development and wise use of our marine resources is important for a healthy economy. The Ministry is working with other government agencies to develop strategies and policies that will ensure the quality and diversity of our marine environment are maintained.

Roles and responsibilities of government agencies