Threats to Marine Biodiversity
There is broad scientific agreement that marine biodiversity is seriously
threatened by human activities.
According to the US Committee on Biological Diversity in Marine Systems*,
the most serious threats to marine biodiversity are:
- fishing operations
- chemical pollution and eutrophication
- alteration of physical habitat invasions of exotic species
- global climate change.
The US Committee on Biological Diversity in Marine Systems* has assessed
that widespread social, economic and biological impacts of these threats
- dramatic reductions in most of the preferred edible fish and shellfish
- loss of species with potential for biomedical products
- changes in the basic functioning of ecosystems.
* "Understanding Marine Biodiversity: A Research Agenda for the Nation"
Committee on Biological Diversity in Marine Systems. National Academy Press.
Washington DC 1995.
In New Zealand
Many human activities in and around New Zealand impact on our marine
- fishing - recreational and commercial land use - through sediments and
- exotic pests - introduced by shipping in ballast water and fouled
- human induced climate change - affects ocean temperature and
The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy fulfills, in part, commitments New
Zealand made under the international Convention on Biological Diversity.
Ratified by New Zealand in 1993, this requires signatory nations to prepare
national strategies to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity.
Fisheries Act 1996
New Zealand's Fisheries Act 1996 sets up a framework for the sustainable
use of fisheries resources. Part II, Section 9 - Environmental Principles,
requires that all actions under this Act include consideration of the
following environmental principles:
- Associated or dependent species should be maintained above a level
that ensures their long-term viability.
- Biological diversity of the aquatic environment should be maintained.
- Habitat of particular significance for fisheries management
should be protected.