New Zealand Triples Marine Reserve, Bans Bottom-Contact Fishing

New Zealand Plans to Prohibit Bottom Fishing Across Vast Marine Reserve
Source: Unsplash

The New Zealand government has nearly tripled the marine protection areas in the Hauraki Gulf, implementing a ban on bottom trawling and Danish seining across extensive zones to safeguard the seafloor.

The protected maritime region of Auckland has seen a significant increase in coverage, expanding from just over 6 percent to 18 percent of the Hauraki Gulf. This area holds immense value, offering enriching experiences, acting as a traditional food source, and playing a pivotal role in the economy, particularly within tourism, transportation, and the seafood sectors. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced this expansion on Wednesday.

A recent evaluation conducted by the Xinhua news agency has estimated the economic value of the Hauraki Gulf at around NZ$100 billion ($60.61 billion).

However, the gulf’s ecosystem is currently facing substantial threats and pressures, resulting in alarming declines in marine life and seabird populations. Hipkins highlighted the rise in pollution and the decline in bird populations.

As outlined by the Hauraki Gulf Marine Protection Bill, which is set to be introduced in parliament, five new seafloor protection areas will be established. These zones aim to conserve delicate seafloor habitats by prohibiting fishing methods that involve contact with the seabed, along with other activities that harm the seafloor.

Rachel Brooking, the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, underscored the innovative approach of the Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan, which focuses on an ecosystem-based strategy.