The Pew Charitable Trusts Kermadec Initiative director says 2015 saw huge progress towards the protection of the world's oceans, with an estimated 60 percent of the total protected surface area declared in the last 12 months alone.
Bronwen Golder says most of these new marine protected areas are in the Pacific region.
She says that includes New Zealand's Kermadec Islands, the exclusive economic zones of Palau and Pitcairn Islands, and the waters around Easter Islands.
But Ms Golder says even with these positive strides, only two percent of the world's oceans are protected.
She says that's a long way off the 30 percent that scientists say is needed to ensure sustainbility of marine resources for future generations.
"You won't be able to sustain a global fishery you won't be able to feed millions and millions of people around the world if we over fish every part of our ocean. We need refuges, we need places where nature is safe."