The Nature based Solution ‘Marine Protected Areas’ are zones of the ocean that are protected from extractive activities, including fishing and the taking of marine life, to protect biodiversity. Ecologically, this allows marine species to flourish, interspecies relationships are restored to balance, and the community of life can thrive. For instance, the Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve was once “mostly urchin barrens, dominated by kina”. Since becoming a marine reserve in 1975, a restoration of macro-algae (seaweed) communities has occurred and is attributed to the increase in snapper and rock lobster, showing the flow on effects of ecological regeneration (Purposes and benefits of Marine Reserves, (2022), Department of Conservation).
Climatically, the regeneration of macroalgae (seaweed) is significant for its ability to absorb CO2 from the ocean. Seaweed forests on the ocean floor are similar to forests on land, for their ability to absorb excess Carbon dioxide and store this in their tissues. According to Ocean Wise “It is estimated that one square kilometre of properly managed seaweed forests could sequester over 1000 tons of CO2 every year” (Seaweed: Nature's Superhero is fighting climate change, (2022), Ocean Wise).
Marine Reserves provide an excellent opportunity for recreation activities, and connection to nature. While extractive activities are prohibited, people are welcome to enjoy viewing and experiencing the magnificent abundance and diversity of oceanic life, and partake in activities like swimming, sailing, kayaking, snorkelling and diving. Communities and local Iwi can have a relationship and a role of kaitiaki and guardianship over the marine reserves. Mana Whenua are able to reconnect with their traditional cultural connections to these areas, Wahi tapu are preserved, for example, the Ngāti Manuhiri Iwi at Okakari Point Reserve (Cape Rodney Okakari Point Marine Reserve, (2015), Department of Conservation).
The Marine Protected Area, officially known as the Cape Rodney Okakari Point Marine Reserve, is New Zealand's first official marine protected area, and was created in 1975 for scientific study purposes. The oceanic area was once mostly urchin barrens, dominated by kina. Since becoming a marine reserve in 1975, a restoration of macroalgae (seaweed) communities has occurred and is attributed to the increase in snapper and rock lobster, showing the flow on effects of ecological regeneration.
For the implementation of a Marine Reserve, an area of ocean is chosen to be protected from extraction. Through the process of a dialogue between community, scientists, Iwi and government, a marine reserve area is agreed upon. Then, a legal framework is developed by the New Zealand government to ensure the area of ocean is protected by the law, with penalties to disincentivize any taking of marine life. The Department of Conservation is a government department that becomes responsible for the maintenance and monitoring of Marine Reserves. (Purposes and benefits of Marine Reserves, (2022), Department of Conservation).
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