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New Subantarctic marine reserves established

Published: 9:23AM Sunday March 02, 2014

Three new marine reserves covering 435,000 hectares of ocean have been formally established today.

The marine reserve status for ocean surrounding the Antipodes, Bounty and Campbell Islands from Perseverance Harbour and Campbell Island means there can be no fishing, mining, petroleum exploration or marine farming in the area.

"The New Zealand Subantarctic Islands are one of the most pristine places on earth and these marine reserves are about keeping them that way," Conservation Minister Nick Smith said.

The new reserves aim to ensure protection for the diversity of wildlife on the islands, including the most important breeding site in the world for the Southern Royal Albatross.

The area also has three species of penguin including the erect-crested that exist only on these islands and it is also a significant breeding ground for the New Zealand fur seal and the New Zealand sea lion, as well as the elephant seal. The islands are also a breeding ground for New Zealand's rarest whale, the southern right.

Mr Smith says the reserves will also protect massive underwater forests of unique antipodean bull kelp as well as giant spider crabs and white-footed paua.

"The strength of these marine reserves is that we now have complete ecosystem protection covering the land and the sea of these Subantarctic Islands. The lack of marine protection was flagged by UNESCO when they approved World Heritage status for the islands in 1998."

New Zealand now has 37 marine reserves to 37 and the newest additions stand out for their scale, protecting an area 13 times larger than the total area of all the reserves on New Zealand's three main islands.

It will expand the proportion of our territorial sea that is protected to 9.5 per cent, close to the target of 10 per cent recommended by the United Nations.

Renee Graham has more on this tonight on ONE News at 6.

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