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Bill Ballantine - Marine Pioneer

A marine biologist and grassroots activist, Bill Ballantine, 59, has been successfully promoting the establishment of “no-take” marine reserves, both in New Zealand and internationally. These unprecedented reserves are widely considered to be a critical means of protecting marine resources which are quickly being depleted around the globe.

Bill_B.jpgWorking with the University of Auckland's Marine Laboratory at Leigh, Ballantine recognized the need for marine reserves where habitat and marine life would be left totally undisturbed by people. Ballantine was very active in a six-year fight to enact New Zealand's Marine Reserve Act in 1971. Overcoming significant resistance from parochial interests, he then continued his campaign to create New Zealand's first marine reserve at Leigh Marine Laboratory in 1977. This was also considered one of the first marine "no-take" reserves in the world. No fishing, extractions, construction, or discharges are allowed in such a reserve.

As Ballantine continued to advocate the creation of additional reserves, acceptance of this novel idea gradually grew. Today there are 13 reserves in New Zealand and at least 25 other proposals are being considered. Ballantine's goal is to convert ten percent of all of New Zealand's marine habitats to reserves by the year 2000. Internationally, New Zealand's reserves are being watched closely and are providing a model for protection of critical marine resources.

Probably the most important contributions to New Zealand marine conservation come from Bill's 30 years of effort to understand marine reserves and how to create them. In his writings you will find internationally recognised discussions and statements of principles of networks of marine reserves. 

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