Friday, August 20, 2010

Marine Biodiversity of Aotearoa New Zealand

Cold Water Coral By-Catch from Bottom Trawling off New Zealand

The Census of Marine Life's results on Marine Biodiversity in New Zealand are published in the Public Library of Science's One Journal of 2 August 2010 here.

The Census recorded some 17,135 living species within New Zealand's 200 nautical-mile boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ. This diversity includes 4,315 known undescribed species in scientific collections. Total marine diversity in the EEZ is expected to equal that in the ERMS or European Register of Marine Species region despite  the European region being 5.5 times larger than New Zealand's EEZ, indicating New Zealand's marine diversity is much greater than that in the European region.

The threats to New Zealand's marine biodiversity are several, including fishing, mining, chemical pollution, coastal nutrient and sediment input, habitat loss, aquaculture, invasive species, harmful algal blooms, and climate change.

 Protected areas within New Zealand's EEZ

"Currently, there are more than 30 marine protected areas established in New Zealand waters. All are “no take” areas, administered by the Department of Conservation....They range in size from about 250 ha (within a harbor) to 745,000 ha (7,450 km2) (at the Kermadec Islands). Collectively, they protect 7.6% of New Zealand's territorial sea; however, 99% of this area is in two marine reserves around isolated offshore island groups (Auckland and Kermadec), and the sum of the areas of the remaining reserves in the mainland territorial sea is less than the area of the smallest terrestrial national park. Of New Zealand's total marine environment (EEZ), just 0.3% is protected in marine reserves. Currently the highest level of protection outside the territorial sea is through fisheries closures of trawling on 19 seamounts, initiated in 2001. Additionally, in 2007, the New Zealand government established 17 Benthic Protection Areas in deep water; these protect about 30% of the seabed in the EEZ from deep-sea bottom trawling and dredging activity. There are three marine parks, each having different regulations and generally affording a lower level of protection than marine reserves proper, for example, mainly protecting reef fish."

Much clearly remains to be done to manage the marine environment in a sustainable manner.

For our Australian friends and readers of this blog, you will find a similar Marine Biodiversity of Australia article compiled as part of the Census of Marine Life here.

No comments: