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Source: New Zealand Government

A new monitoring programme for marine reserves, coupled with a network of marine reserve rangers, will boost protection for the country’s special marine areas, Conservation Minister Poto Williams says.

The Minister has announced the new Marine Monitoring and Reporting Framework today, as Conservation Week began.

The framework, developed by the Department of Conservation, is a comprehensive plan for the management of marine reserves.

“This is the first time a nationally coordinated monitoring system will be in place and will allow results across marine reserves to be directly compared,” Poto Williams says.

The monitoring will allow drivers of biodiversity loss to be investigated such as habitat health, climate change effects, key species, compliance, water quality, invasive species, and pollution, depending on the aspirations of mana whenua and communities.

“In some places, we may be more interested in knowing how the populations of kōura or blue cod are faring,” Minister Williams says. “In other areas it might be more important to see how habitats like kelp forests or sponge gardens are responding to climate change and more acidic seawater.”

This framework has an innovative and flexible design which builds upon historic monitoring methods, includes mātauranga, and incorporates new and emergent approaches to monitoring.

In addition to the new framework, 13 marine reserve rangers have been employed to care for 26 mainland marine reserves across the country.

“Their roles are a mixture of compliance, scientific monitoring, and working with local communities,” Poto Williams says.

This work is being delivered as part of the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, which is focused on helping ecosystems and indigenous species thrive. Around 50% of our marine flora and fauna are found nowhere else on earth.

“People can help protect our marine species this Conservation Week (5-11 September 2022) by being a marine scientist at home through citizen science projects such as Spyfish Aotearoa.

“Volunteers can help with tasks that are too big for researchers to do alone, such as identifying species in videos and measuring species in photos,” Minister Williams says.

The theme for this Conservation Week (5-11 September) is “take a moment to act for nature”.

“Even small actions can make a difference, such as picking up rubbish, volunteering or attending a Conservation Week event. Taking action not only benefits nature, but also makes us feel great.”