Science & Technology

New Zealand to triple Auckland’s maritime protection areas

Sydney, Australia, Aug 9 (EFE).- New Zealand is to triple the marine protection coverage of the Hauraki Gulf to protect its fragile ecosystem, the government announced Wednesday.

“The gulf … is at risk and its ecosystems are under immense pressures, causing concerning declines in marine life and sea bird populations,” New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement announcing the bill, which he will present to parliament in Wellington.

“Those who live and work in the gulf can see it’s changing. There’s more pollution and fewer birds,” he added.

The Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill includes 19 new protection areas and will triple the total coverage from 6 percent to 18 percent of the gulf, which is dotted with islands and covers some 4,000 square kilometers of the waters off the shores of Auckland, the country’s most populous city.

The bill will also prohibit bottom trawling and other practices that harm the sea floor, and create 12 new high protection areas to conserve and restore marine ecosystems, while allowing for Maori customary practices.

The gulf is the home or migratory passage of dozens of species of marine mammals, including dolphins and whales, as well as critically endangered or endangered bird species.

“It’s also an essential and traditional source of food, and a vital part of our economy for the tourism, transport and seafood sectors,” Hipkins said. EFE


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