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Marine protection for NZ animals

Marine protections are an important way to provide havens for our marine fauna and flora to flourish - they include spaces that range from no-take zones (100% protection), through to areas with no commercial fishing and/or recreational catch limit areas. Research shows they are important for fish populations to thrive; with no take zones showing biomass of fish to be 670% greater than adjacent unprotected areas!!*

But the concept of protecting our waters is complicated, not only are there multiple organisations involved (Fisheries New Zealand, DoC and regional councils), the environment is vast and difficult to monitor. Then throw in animals like our Mobula rays - these guys migrate to NZ from the tropics for spring and summer. These rays and other migrating species that move beyond country borders (arbitrary lines made by humans) pose a challenge for regulators around the world. 

With our new Mobula Ray Necklaces, we highlight this challenge and encourage people to seize opportunities like SeaWeek to learn more about our amazing marine environment. Because it is “only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help." - Jane Goodall. 

Not all protections are created equal


Marine Reserve

Highly protected areas (generally no-take) with a purpose of preserving them in their natural state as the habitat of marine life for scientific study. A broad range of activities and their effects can be managed, controlled or excluded. Evidence shows these are the most effective in protecting inhabitant and surrounding species. 

Protected Areas

Regional councils may establish and implement maintaining Indigenous biological diversity.


Estuarine or coastal areas only. Fishing allowed unless its management committee (nominated by local Māori community) recommends changes to the fishing rules and they are approved by the Minister of Fisheries. Recommendations can relate to: species fished; fishing seasons; sizes and amounts of fish; fishing areas; fishing methods.

More info here.

For more information check out:

Spine-tailed devil ray, Department of Conservation

The regulatory space is complex, Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor

More Marine Reserves, Our Seas Our Future

Protecting our marine world: Issues for marine environments, DoC worksheets



*Sala, E. and Giakoumi, S. (2018) No-take marine reserves are the most effective protected areas in the ocean, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 75(3), pp. 1166–1168.

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