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More Marine Reserves™

More Marine Reserves™ is a brand advocating for the establishment of more marine reserves in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The goal of this brand is to raise public awareness in New Zealand about the need to protect our coastal and marine environments through the establishment of marine reserve networks that will enable protection of a wide range of biodiversity.

Marine Reserves in New Zealand

Marine reserves are a way of protecting precious marine life and the coastal environment from potentially harmful activities. Fishing, resource extraction, ocean sprawl and habitat destruction are all things that can potentially harm vulnerable marine species and negatively affect the coastal and marine environment.

In order to create ecosystems that are more resilient to the impacts of climate change, it is imperative that we introduce measures to reduce fishing pressures. Having an abundance of fish and other marine life in the sea allows for more carbon to take place: a vital process that locks carbon emissions away.

Aotearoa has a unique coastal and marine environment – many of our species are endemic to this country, and can not be found anywhere else. Species like New Zealand black corals, the Hector’s dolphin, and Blackfoot paua are entirely unique to Aotearoa, and these species deserve a safe and healthy habitat to live in.

New Zealand started off well by introducing the Marine Reserves Act in 1971, however, this Act only covers Aotearoa’s Territorial Seas, and not our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). There are around 44 marine reserves in our Territorial Seas, but we also have the fourth largest EEZ in the world and because of this, less than 1% of our oceans are currently protected. If we are serious about marine protection in Aotearoa, this needs to change.

The Marine Reserves Act was passed in 1971, and in 1975 New Zealand’s first marine reserve was created at Cape Rodney/Okakari Point (also known as the Leigh or Goat Island Marine Reserve). Marine reserves currently provide the highest level of marine protection in New Zealand.

There are currently around 44 marine reserves in New Zealand’s territorial waters. However in terms of the area, we provide close to 0% protection for our oceans, and this needs to change fast. New Zealand has biologically rich and complex marine ecosystems. Our marine environment covers some 500 million hectares of ocean with more than 15,000 marine species found here. New Zealand also has the fourth largest largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world.

Visit some of New Zealand’s marine reserves here

New Zealand’s Current Legislative Framework

Three levels marine protection in New Zealand:
1 – Type 1 Marine reserves under the Marine Reserves Act 1971
2 – Type 2 Marine protected areas under the Marine Reserves Act 1971
3 – Other mechanisms including:
Benthic Protection Areas
Seamount Area Closures
Marine mammal sanctuaries
RMA marine protection areas
Customary management: Mataitai reserves, Taiapure reserves

Recent Updates

Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill


South eastern South Island marine protection areas


Bay of Plenty RMA Motiti protection areas


Take Action

Sign and Share our petition asking the Government to provide greater marine protection in New Zealand and protect 30% of our ocean by 2030, in Marine Reserves.

30% by 2030 Posters – Download and print out these posters to help promote our petition asking the Government for better marine protection in New Zealand.

Make your own marine reserve proposal: How to create a marine reserve proposal – a complete guide (

Use your voice! Vote, volunteer with an organisation or write a letter to your MP!

OSOF has a range of volunteer roles that are available, or you can help with local events, check out some of our roles or contact us.

External Educational Resources

Investigating Marine Reserves – This is an integrated curriculum teaching resource with New Zealand’s marine reserves as a real-life context for learning. The resource links to the New Zealand Curriculum at levels 1-4, but can be adapted for use at various levels.

Experiencing Marine Reserves – Check out this list of marine conservation resources for educators. EMR is a national programme of experiential learning about marine conservation.

“Living Blue” Education Resource Pack – Marine Reserves education resource pack “Living Blue” offers detailed lesson plans and resources for year 7-9 students. Specifically targeted as a relief teachers resource.

Further Reading and Resources




Social Media Feed

Follow us on New Zealand Marine Reserves to receive news and information on Marine Protected Areas.


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We provide a regular newsfeed on marine protected areas and ecosystem related content.

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