Three new marine reserves will be up and about around the remote islands south of New Zealand effective March 2, as Parliament has recently passed the Subantarctic Islands Marine Reserves Act.
The newly passed bill establishes three new marine reserves surrounding the Antipodes, Bounty and Campbell Islands in New Zealand's remote Subantarctic oceans.
"The significance of these three new reserves is their huge size, near pristine state and remoteness. Their marine reserve status means there can be no fishing, no mining and no petroleum exploration within the protected areas," Conservation Minister Nick Smith said in a statement.
The three new marine reserves have 435,000 hectares. These effectively expand New Zealand's protected territorial sea from 7.1 percent to 9.5 percent, helping to achieve the 10 percent target as contained in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
Smith said the islands are a perfect breeding site for some sea creatures, including southern right whales, New Zealand fur seals and sea lions. It is also where a tenth of the world's seabirds breed, including the southern royal albatross.
Once enacted, the NZ Navy is empowered to enforce the provisions of the law, ensuring that no fishing, mining and petroleum exploration will ever occur within the protected areas.
WWF-NZ heralded the passage of the new bill saying more can be done to save the immediate environment.
"While new reserves are welcome, what New Zealand needs most of all is a comprehensive plan for looking after our marine environment. We all need to be clear on where we want protection, where we can fish and what other type of activities will be allowed. Let's do it once and lets do it right. Our oceans deserve it," WWF-NZ Head of Campaigns Peter Hardstaff said.
"Legislation to set up a comprehensive marine spatial plan for looking after our oceans should be a priority for this Government and whoever is in power for the next term.