TODAY |

World's second largest marine sanctuary created 'effectively in New Zealand's back yard'

After six-years of political wrangling one of the world's largest marine sanctuaries has come into force in Antarctica's Ross Sea today.

New Zealand was at the forefront of the push for fishing restrictions in the Ross Sea. Source: 1 NEWS

It's the world's second largest marine sanctuary thanks to a ground-breaking international agreement signed last year.

"It's one and half million square kilometres and it is effectively in New Zealand's back yard," marine scientist Rochelle Constantine told 1 NEWS.

The Ross Sea is home to around 16,000 different species including 11 different birds, 12 species of whales and more than 95 different kinds of fish.

"We have really done a bad job with managing our oceans throughout the world - they are in a lot of trouble.

"Largely from over fishing and pollution but climate change is really going to hit some of our marine systems really hard as well," Ms Constantine said.

Most of the sanctuary will be closed to fishing, with the government admitting that monitoring such a large and remote area will be challenging.

"You'd be deceitful if you didn't admit that it was a concern and that we need the monitoring firepower to do the job.

"Whether we have to enlist others to help us or otherwise has to be addressed in the future," deputy PM Winston Peters said.

The sanctuary has an expiry date - of 35-years, with the government and scientists hoping that in-depth research and monitoring will prove to other countries that it's worth extending.