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Integrated policy needed to protect New Zealand's unique marine life

(Xinhua)

13:59, April 28, 2012

WELLINGTON, April 27 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand needs a marine policy system that helps to protect its unique ocean ecosystems in the face of growing development of the marine economy, a U.S. marine policy expert said Friday.

Endangered animals such as the Maui's dolphin -- currently believed to have a population of just 55 -- would come under increasing pressure from offshore oil and mineral exploration as well as aquaculture, said Dr Mike McGinnis.

McGinnis, who conducted a two-year marine policy study for New Zealand's Victoria University, called on the country to adopt ecosystem based policy instruments and planning tools to sustain all marine resource use across generations.

"New Zealand is unique in that your small population is responsible for one of the most ecologically important marine areas in the world, particularly for seabirds and marine mammals," said McGinnis referring to the release the university's summary report on the study into New Zealand's ocean governance.

"As the country moves to develop offshore oil, minerals and marine farming activities, conflict between sectors will inevitably occur," said McGinnis, an associate professor in international marine policy and science at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and the National Center for the Blue Economy in California.

"In the 'race for marine space', there will be those who wish to protect marine life and those with an interest in economic development. There is currently no existing ocean governance framework in place to reconcile this conflict," he said in a statement.

An ecosystem-based approach to marine management explicitly recognized marine activities were interconnected, he said.

McGinnis said it was more than just a question of balancing the economic use of a marine area with the importance of a species or habitat.

"Decisions need to be made that integrate the economic, environmental and social values of the sea in a way that sustains marine resources across generations."


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