WELLINGTON, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand's sub-Antarctic world heritage islands will see their reserve status extended out to their territorial waters, the government announced Wednesday.
Three marine reserves would be created under the Subantarctic Islands Marine Reserves Bill, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said in a statement.
It would establish a marine reserve covering the entire 12 nautical miles of territorial sea around Antipodes Island, another reserve covering 58 percent of the territorial waters around the Bounty Islands, and a third reserve covering 39 percent of the waters around Campbell Island.
The 435,163 hectares of new waters to be protected, combined with the existing marine reserve around the Auckland Islands, would create almost 1 million hectares of fully protected, no-take marine reserves in New Zealand's sub-Antarctic territorial seas.
"These islands boast world heritage status in recognition of their international conservation importance and amazing wildlife. This Bill will ensure that the protection these islands enjoy is extended out to the sea," Wilkinson said.
"Some of the most biologically-diverse marine communities in the world are found here and recent research shows that their diversity compares with locations such as the Galapagos Islands," she said.
"The sub-Antarctic islands are renowned globally and are a huge attraction for the burgeoning eco-tourism industry. Protecting the surrounding waters is sure to add to the prestige of this remote area."
The Bill had its first reading in Parliament Wednesday before being referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.