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Abel Tasman Tonga Island Marine Reserve RNZ cropped

Photo: Tonga Island Marine Reserve in the Abel Tasman National Park

More marine reserves than ever before - a genuine step forward for conservation, or nothing more than a token gesture?

The Government says it is committed to preserving New Zealand's marine environment with a record number of marine reserves due to be unveiled this year.

Anemone Ulva Island Marine Reserve Vincent ZintzenDOC diver sampling in kelp forest Ulva Island Marine Reserve Vincent ZintzenA blue cod examines the camera Ulva Island Marine Reserve Vincent Zintzen

Photos under water in Ulva Island Marine Reserve by Vincent Zintzen. From left anemome, diver in kelp, blue cod

It recently  announced proposals for its biggest one so far - a ten-thousand hectare reserve off the coast of Kaikoura.

But environmentalists say the introduction of more reserves is a clear contradiction when the Government continues to encourage oil and gas exploration.

alison hossain x portraitRadio New Zealand's fisheries reporter, Alison Hossain, asks if New Zealand is paving the way as a world leader in marine protection or is at all just smoke and mirrors?