Waters north of New Zealand are set to become one of the world's largest ocean sanctuaries with a full ban on fishing and mining. New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key said at the United Nations that legislation to this end has been tabled for 2016.
Called the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, the area in question covers 620,000 square kilometers (239,000 square miles) and encompasses a string of undersea volcanoes while being home to a large number of endangered species such as whales, dolphins and turtles.
The announcement caught New Zealand's seafood export industry off guard. Businesses complained the fishing ban would also apply to tuna, the fourth largest seafood export item in the nation according to 2013 data.
"With no forewarning from government, the industry needs time to consider the full implications," the chairman of Seafood New Zealand, George Clement, said in a statement.
Mining firms were not amused either as they'd be prevented from gaining prospecting rights in the sanctuary.
Nature conservationists for their part welcomed the announcement, saying that the measure would make New Zealand a global leader in the protection of oceans.
hg/jd (AFP, Reuters)