One hundred-fold difference between perceived and actual levels of marine protection in New Zealand

Anthropogenic threats to the global marine environment are increasing, and the Convention of Biological Diversity has set a target of 10% global ocean protection by 2020. Social factors are an important component of coastal marine protected area and no-take marine reserve creation. In order to understand social factors influencing marine reserve creation in New Zealand, public surveys were conducted in 2005 and 2011 about marine protection and threats to the marine environment (Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone). These results are compared to an experts’ opinion survey of threats to the New Zealand marine environment, and actual marine protection levels. Generally, the New Zealand public identified similar New Zealand originated threats to the marine environment as those identified by experts, in contrast to expert identified global threats originating from climate change, which were minimally identified by the public. Experts identified that shallow, coastal waters were under greater threat than deep water habitats. On average, the New Zealand public thought that ~30% of New Zealand’s marine environment was protected by no-take marine reserves, and that 36% should be protected, while in fact only 0.3% is protected by no-take marine reserves. There is considerable potential for publicly driven marine protection initiatives in New Zealand with sufficient awareness, education, and outreach programs to better inform New Zealanders about actual marine protection levels. The results of this study are globally important, as similar knowledge gaps about marine environmental issues have been identified in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Eddy T. D., 2014. One hundred-fold difference between perceived and actual levels of marine protection in New Zealand. Marine Policy 46:61-67. Article (subscription required).

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