New Zealand Prime Minister John Key told the UN general assembly in New York that it would soon build the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, one of the largest protected ecosystems for marine life.
"[It] is one of the most geographically and geologically diverse areas in the world. It contains the world's longest underwater volcanic arc and the second deepest ocean trench at 10 kilometres deep," he said in a statement, AFP reported via Yahoo News
"New Zealanders value our coasts and oceans, which are an important part of our culture, economy and environment and we are committed to managing them sustainably."
In total, the sanctuary is set to include 240,000 square miles of the sea, making it roughly the size of France.
According to The Guardian (UK)
, "The area is considered crucial in terms of biodiversity, featuring nearly 35 species of whales and dolphins, 150 types of fish and three of the world’s seven sea turtle species."
The marine life will be insulated from oil, gas, and mineral prospecting, all of which will be banned when the country's government passes the protectionist legislation next year, Key said.
Nick Smith, New Zealand’s environment minister, said his country "needs to use its vast ocean resources for jobs and exports with industries like fishing, aquaculture, minerals and energy, but we also need to set aside special areas where nature comes first and marine life is fully protected."
Discovery News reported
that WWF New Zealand chief executive Chris Howe applauded the announcement.
"We congratulate the government for taking decisive action to protect this incredibly special area from mining and fishing," he said. "This decision puts New Zealand back at the forefront of marine protection on the global stage."
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