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1.2 The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary

On 29 September 2015, Prime Minister John Key announced a proposal to create a 620,000 square kilometre Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. Legislation creating the Sanctuary will be progressed in 2016 separately from the proposals in this consultation document. The purpose of the legislation will be to preserve this important marine area in its natural state.

The Sanctuary will be located in the Kermadec region of the South Pacific Ocean, about 1000 kilometres northeast of New Zealand. Its deep, clear waters are home to an amazing array of marine life and provide and important migration path for many marine species crossing the Pacific Ocean. There is nowhere else in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone where such a range of tropical, subtropical and temperate species of fish, birds and marine mammals can be found co-existing together.

The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres.

To date, the isolation of the area and the depth of water have ensured a very low level of human impact, but increased activity in fishing, seabed mining and the spread of pollution across the world’s oceans makes it important to protect these globally significant pristine areas.

This proposed Sanctuary aligns New Zealand with similar initiatives by the USA, UK, Australian, and Chilean governments for large scale ocean protected areas.