Protecting the seabed – Benthic Protection Areas
In November 2007 regulations closed 17 areas within New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone to bottom trawling and dredging.
These closed areas provide protection to an area of seabed habitat equal to about 1.2 million square kilometres, an area four times the landmass of New Zealand.
These areas are known as Benthic Protection Areas (BPAs). Prior to the BPAs being implemented, the level of protection in the EEZ was about two percent; mostly through closures around seamounts that were implemented in 2001. With the BPAs, New Zealand has now protected about 32 percent of its EEZ.
This total protected area includes:
- 28 percent of underwater topographic features (including seamounts)
- 52 percent of seamounts (underwater mountains over 1,000 metres in height)
- 88 percent of known active hydrothermal vents in our EEZ.
The government will continue processes that provide marine protection, including Marine Protection Areas (MPAs). These will concentrate on protecting areas closer to the coast in the shorter term. Further marine protection for the wider EEZ will be considered in 2013.