South Pacific Sunrise 2 CC TheConduqtor

New Zealand is telling fishing and mining industries to keep their “hands off” a huge part of the South Pacific—one that’s about the size of France.

Prime Minister John Key announced the plan Monday to create a 240,000 square mile marine sanctuary, 600 miles off New Zealand’s northern coast.

The protected zone, which Key called “one of the world’s most geographically and geologically diverse areas,” includes volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench on record. Some of its sea life is found nowhere else on the planet.

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Currently, multitudes of sea life ranging from whales to sea turtles thrive in these waters, and migrate on journeys throughout the region. Scientists routinely discover new species there.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be twice the size of New Zealand’s total land area, and will be part of a 1.3 million square mile network of protected areas in the Pacific Ocean. These are all areas where wildlife is protected from fishing and resource extraction operations. The legislation to protect the sanctuary should be in place by October, 2016, according to officials who made the announcement at the United Nations in New York.leopard in The Animal Communicator video

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“This decision puts New Zealand back at the forefront of marine protection on the global stage.” said Chris Howe, the World Wildlife Fund’s New Zealand chief.

(READ more from ABC.auPhoto: The Conduqtor, CC

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