New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, recently announced plans to create one of the world’s largest ocean sanctuaries during the United Nations General Assembly that took place in New York. The preserve, called the Kermadec Ocean sanctuary, will be established in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the country and will stretch over 62,000 square kilometers – or roughly the size of Texas or France.
THE Kermadec Ocean sanctuary: What to expect
The sanctuary, which will be officially established next year upon the successful passage of legislation, will provide a shelter for all sorts of marine life, including species of fish, seabirds, and turtles. Moreover, it will contain the world’s longest underwater volcanic chain and the second deepest ocean trench, the 6.2-mile deep Kermadec.
The ocean sanctuary will most likely become a hub for tourism and is expected to provide an economic boost to the country, especially since many people in the region base their livelihoods around the sea. Currently, 7 percent of New Zealand’s GDP comes from tourism; this roughly translates to 3.02 million visitors in the last year.
“Creating protected areas will support not only our own fisheries but those of our Pacific neighbors, adding to New Zealand’s efforts to help grow Pacific economies through the responsible management of their ocean resources,” the Prime Minister stated.
WHAT OTHER GROUPS HAVE TO SAY
Despite the benefits the ocean sanctuary can potentially provide, many people are concerned that its establishment will detrimentally affect the tuna industry, which is currently valued at the $882-million. According to a report by BBC, however, environmentalist groups are largely supportive of the project, as the sanctuary would protect 15.5 percent of New Zealand’s marine area – a huge jump from the 0.5 percent that is currently safeguarded.
The total ocean coverage means the new sanctuary will join the ranks of some of the largest and most famous marine protected areas in the world, such as the Great Barrier Reef, which is considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Today, it covers an area of 344,400 square kilometers (133,000 sq mi).