Looking after our ocean
© Daniel Versteeg / WWF

Looking after our ocean

Restoring ocean health for the benefit of people and nature

New Zealand has a diverse range of coastal and marine environments, habitats, and species. We want to make sure it stays that way.

The health of our marine environment is inextricably linked to our health and wellbeing. The ocean provides food, regulates our climate, and generates most of the oxygen we breathe.

WWF works with many other organisations to protect and restore the health of the ocean. Our current focus areas are promoting sustainable fisheries, advocating for the creation of more Marine Protected Areas, and protecting benthic environments.

© naturepl.com / Chris Gomersall / WWF

Sustainable fishing

It is estimated that more than three-quarters of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited or overfished.

Each year inefficient, destructive and/or illegal fishing practices kill millions of fish and marine animals as unwanted bycatch.

Poor fisheries management, exacerbated by climate change, is the largest threat to ocean life and habitats ... and to the livelihoods and diets of more than a billion people.

© Moana

Transparent and Traceable Seafood

Globally, as much as 50% of seafood sourced from the ocean is thrown away or lost in the process.

As much as 20% of seafood consumed is mislabelled as the wrong species.

As the world transitions towards more sustainable seafood sourcing, it is important that policies and fishing laws are adhered to. Seafood supply chain transparency can help ensure that those policies and laws are followed through the use of traceability. 

Marine Protected Areas

Aotearoa’s ocean is home to around 65,000 species and is responsible for about 80% of our indigenous biodiversity. Yet less than 1% of our marine and coastal biodiversity is fully protected compared with over 30% of our land.

We need to create Marine Protected Areas (MPA) that conserve at least one third of each habitat within a network of effectively managed areas.  We believe our network of MPA should uphold the rights of indigenous and local communities and include Māori cultural practice.

In December 2022, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. They committed to the "30x30" target. A commitment to protect and conserve 30% of the world’s land, freshwater and ocean by 2030. 

It’s essential Aotearoa is committed to reaching this goal. A thriving, resilient ocean is possible, if we work together!

WWF is working with government, business, industry, fisheries, iwi, hapū, and communities to ensure future generations can benefit from a thriving and resilient ocean. We strongly advocate for 30% of our ocean to be protected by 2030. And have for many years been campaigning for the establishment of the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary.

Why do MPA matter?

Marine Protected Areas are protected from extractive impacts, such as fishing and mining. However, people can still swim in and enjoy these areas.

For MPA to provide full benefits, we must also prevent pollution from land-based sources and have effective management, monitoring, and governance systems in place. When MPA are created in an effective network, they help our ocean to be resilient to climate change, protect biodiversity, and can provide the foundation for sustainable fisheries.

MPA support fisheries through the ‘spill over’ of fish from inside the area swimming outside. They also benefit fisheries through allowing fish to grow to their maximum size, producing exponentially more eggs than smaller fish. Many of these eggs will travel outside the MPA and populate other areas.

© Erling Svensen / WWF

Protecting Benthic Environments

Approximately 98% of ocean species live in, on, or just above the seabed. And the deep-ocean floor covers more than half the planet surface. It is home to million of species– an incredibly rich area of biodiversity.

Although largely unexplored, the deep seabed is extremely vulnerable, and in need of protection from the impact of human activity. 

Two of the biggest threats to benthic environments are bottom trawling on seamounts and similar places and the proposal to mine the deep sea for minerals.

Get involved

Deep sea fish

Stop Deep Seabed Mining

A global moratorium on all deep seabed mining activities is urgently needed.  
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Help protect marine species

Help protect New Zealand marine species and their habitats by adopting a penguin, albatross or dolphin.
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End Plastic Pollution

Help end plastic pollution in the ocean by showing your support for an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty.

Oceans News