What is a marine reserve?
A marine reserve is a protected area of the sea. They can include any area from the high tide line on the sand out to 12 nautical miles from the shore. Marine reserves include habitats such as estuaries, rocky and sandy shores, mangrove forests, reefs and open ocean. Laws protect all species within a marine reserve. You can’t fish or take any animals or plants from the reserve. Also protected are non-living features such as sand, shells and rocks.
Why are marine reserves important?
Marine reserves protect some of our special New Zealand habitats, plants and animals. They are safe environments where native animals can live, breed and grow.
Marine reserves help to:
- protect biodiversity
- boost the numbers of fish and food species
- allow people to study untouched marine environments, which can show what the marine environment once looked like, before human impacts
- preserve the natural services of the marine environment (e.g. flood protection, water filtration, geological processes)
- protect ecosystems from any threats
- increase recreation and tourism opportunities for New Zealand.
As protected marine ecosystems recover, we continue to learn more about the value of marine reserves.
Who looks after our marine reserves?
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is responsible for looking after the marine reserves in New Zealand. Other organisations, such as local councils as well as volunteers, help DOC to protect these important places.
Where are our marine reserves?
There are marine reserves dotted around the coast of New Zealand and some offshore islands.
- View the locations of marine reserves here: www.doc.govt.nz/marinereserves and www.doc.govt.nz/marine-reserves-map.
- Ready for a quiz? Try the Marine Reserves Defined activity.