Sydney (EFEverde).- New Zealand will create a marine sanctuary spread over 620,000 square kilometers (around 239,400 square miles) in the Kermadec region.
“The Kermadec Ocean sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas,” Prime Minister John Key said at the U.N. General Assembly Monday, according to a statement released by his office in Wellington.
The sanctuary, where fishing and mining activities will be banned, will cover “15 percent of New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone, an area twice the size of our landmass,” Key said.
The Kermadec region has an archipelago of 13 volcanic islands, over an area of nearly 7,500 square kilometers (around 2,900 square miles), located some 1,000 kilometers (around 620 miles) to the northeast of the mainland, and boasts of rich marine biodiversity owing to a unique mix of tropical and temperate waters.
The World Wildlife Fund lauded the initiative, which needs to be approved by New Zealand’s parliament, saying, it puts New Zealand at “the forefront of marine protection on the global stage.”
“As well as being home to a wide range of marine species, the Kermadec region is one of the most geographically and geologically diverse areas in the word. It contains the world’s longest underwater volcanic arc and the second deepest ocean trench,” Key said.
The Kermadec islands were uninhabited until around a thousand years ago when the first Polynesian settlers arrived, followed by the Maoris and finally the Europeans, who set up the first whaling ports.
In 1934, the region was declared a natural reserve. EFEverde