Adding more to their conservationist efforts, New Zealand aims to make the largest ocean sanctuary in the world, which is double the surface of their entire country.
- The current largest sanctuary around Kermadec Islands will be expanded to 240,000 square miles
- That is twice the size of New Zealand, and 50 times the size of their largest national park
- This will bring the Pacific Ocean to 2.1 million square miles of protected waters
- While it will hurt industries, government officials have stated that tourism will balance it out, with 3.02 million visitors reported just this year
New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, has come forth with a project that would widen the protected area in the South Pacific Ocean. The existing space around Kermadec Islands currently encompasses over 4,600 square miles of the waters and its species. The expansion has been proposed for the past 6 years and it’s finally taking place.
The Kermadec Islands will be at the heart of the protected area, now seeking to be expanded to a whopping and incredible 240,000 square miles of ocean sanctuary. This is twice the size of New Zealand, and reportedly 50 times larger than the country’s largest national park. It’s quite of an impressive modification and the World Wildlife Fund members have offered their congratulations.
The sanctuary will protect a large number of species, highly important for biodiversity. There are almost 35 species of whales and dolphins, 150 different types of fish, and 3 species of sea turtles. It could be an exceptional effort to preserve an important part of our world. This will also include a group of subtropical volcanic islands.
According to Environmental Minister, Dr. Nick Smith, “oceans are the new frontier for environmental protection”.
Businesses have, of course, asked for time to assess how it would affect their activity. Ranging from precious minerals such as gold, copper and silver, to gas and fisheries, all could be affected, though officials have stated otherwise. Around 7% of New Zealand’s GDP is rooted in tourism, which they aim to improve with their environmental efforts.
It’s one step forward for the world from a geological perspective, but potentially one back for several markets. However, priorities have shifted, and Key has added that while mining and fishing industries might suffer, the sanctuary will balance economic growth.
Some have regarded this potentially astounding effort for our environment with cynicism. According to Bunny McDiarmid, the executive director of Greenpeace New Zealand has stated that this might just be a mask. The Paris Climate Conference will be taking place in December this year, and the New Zealand government is set to arrive there with “a really bad proposal”.
In fact, while most nations that are aiming to reduce gas emissions by 30-40%, their outlined plan is to cut down on pollution by 11% until 2030. Even though they’re establishing this exceptional sanctuary and making an excellent effort to preserve species, they’re also not addressing the issue of gas emissions.
According to McDiarmid, they’re undermining the issue with completely irrelevant action against climate, and they’re in fact attempting to mask their poor efforts and divert attention.