Marine protected areas

Marine protected areas help ensure New Zealand's marine environment remains healthy in the future. Find out how they're classified, protected and developed, who manages them, and about reforms.

Marine protected areas policy under reform

The Government is reforming marine protected area (MPA) legislation. We'll update this web page when there are changes.

Find out more on the Ministry for the Environment website.

What is a marine protected area?

A marine protected area (MPA) is an area where you're not allowed to fish.

They're protected because of:

  • how unique or rare they are
  • the function they serve for marine life.

Download a map of New Zealand's MPAs [PDF, 7.1 MB]

Creating a network

Because our seas are so isolated and we have a broad range of habitats, a high number of species are found only in New Zealand waters.

The Government is creating a network of MPAs to protect examples of our rare, outstanding, and different marine habitats and ecosystems.

Other ways to protect areas include:

  • marine reserves
  • Fisheries Act closure areas
  • cable protection zones.

Each way has a slightly different purpose.

Download an MPA overview, which explains how the MPA network has been developed.

How will the MPA network be developed?

The process for establishing MPAs is in the MPA classification, protection standard, and implementation guidelines.

Download the MPA guidelines [PDF, 2.8 MB]

This process will ensure that future marine protection is properly planned and integrated.
Fisheries New Zealand will be working with the Department of Conservation and:

  • other government departments
  • local government
  • marine users
  • tangata whenua
  • groups with an interest in the marine environment.

Who to contact

If you have questions about marine protected areas, email

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