Oceans protected with new safe havens

The tiny Pacific island nation of Niue has plans to create a huge marine sanctuary to combat overfishing. It's one of several marine protected areas announced over past weeks.

Although small in size, the island of Niue made big waves on Friday at the Our Ocean conference in Malta with its announcement to turn 40 percent of its exclusive economic zone into a marine park.

Nature and Environment | 05.10.2017

Niue, which has a population of roughly 1,600, lays claim to vast tracts of ocean due to its remote location about 2,400 kilometers (about 1,500 miles) northeast of New Zealand.

The island's Premier Toke Talagi said his government wants to stop the depletion of fish stocks and give the ocean space to heal to protect the environment for the next generation.

"This commitment is not a sacrifice - it is an investment in the certainty and stability of our children's future," he said. "We simply cannot be the generation of leaders who have taken more than they have given to this planet and left behind a debt that our children cannot pay."

Nature and Environment | 05.10.2017
Nature and Environment

Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

Covering an area of almost 1.3 million square kilometers (800,000 square miles), this is among the world's largest marine protected areas. Located in the western Pacific Ocean, it is home to all manner of marine life including green turtles, pearl oysters, giant clams, reef sharks, coconut crabs, dolphins and whales.

Nature and Environment

Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve

Surrounding this British Overseas Territory lies the largest contiguous marine protected area in the world. The 834,334 square kilometers of pristine ocean habitat are monitored via satellite to track potential illegal fishing activity in this vast and remote corner of the South Pacific.

Nature and Environment

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Situated off the northeastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest in the world. A vast area of that reef, which is so big it can be seen from space, forms the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The reef saw devastating coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017. In an effort to protect the delicate ecosystem, fishing is strictly regulated and commercial ships can only use certain routes.

Nature and Environment

Galapagos Marine Reserve

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to many animals found nowhere else in the world, the Galapagos Marine Reserve in the Pacific Ocean is administered by Ecuador and is the largest marine park in a developing country.

Nature and Environment

Bowie Seamount marine protected area

The Bowie Seamount is an underwater volcano located 180 kilometers off the west coast of Canada. Although the volcano rises about 3,000 meters from the ocean bed, its highest point is 24 meters below sea level. While it may be invisible to those of us living above water, the submerged mountain is home to a rich mix of marine fauna and flora.

Nature and Environment

Chagos archipelago

The United Kingdom declared this vast stretch of Indian Ocean a marine protected area in 2010. The legality of the move has been contested by Mauritius, which lays claim to the group of islands. In the 1970s, the UK evicted the entire native population from the archipelago and granted the United States permission to use it as a military base.

Nature and Environment

The Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park

Extending from the German-Danish maritime border down to the Elbe estuary, and with an area of 4,410 square kilometers, this is doubtless Germany’s largest national park. Due to the intertidal nature of the Wadden Sea, some 30 percent of it is only periodically under water.

Nature and Environment

The Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals

Covering a large area between the French Riviera, Sardinia and the Italian region of Tuscany, this sanctuary was established specifically to protect marine mammals. It is currently the world's only conservation area in international waters.

Nature and Environment

Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area

In October 2016, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) agreed to create a marine protected area off the coast of Antarctica. However, the 1.6 million square kilometers of pristine wilderness will only be protected for 35 years. What happens after remains to be seen.

Nature and Environment

Aquatic Reserve of the South of Gabon

The government of Gabon announced in June 2017 creation of a 53,000-square-kilometer network of marine protected areas - the largest in Africa. It would apply to a quarter of Gabon's seas, which are incredibly rich in life, including sea turtles, whales, dolphins, corals, even crocodiles. The region is known for rampant overfishing - the reserves are accompanied by a sustainable fishing plan.

Nature and Environment

Cook Islands Marine Park

In July 2017, the Cook Islands - a small island nation about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii - approved designation of the world's new largest marine sanctuaries off its shores. The 1.9-million-square-kilometer preserve includes a core no-fishing zone, otherwise limits on mineral extraction and commercial fishing. It's hoped to help preserve the archipelago's lagoons and reefs.

Marine sanctuaries twice the size of Germany

Niue is the latest government to step up its marine protection.

This September, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet created a 740,000-square-kilometer (286,000-square-mile) official marine reserve around remote Easter Island.

The Rapa Nui marine park is roughly the size of the Chilean mainland, and will protect more than a hundred endemic marine species - of which 27 are threatened with extinction.

Poky Tane Haoa Hey, an indigenous leader on the Easter Island, has welcomed the move. "That's very important for my people. We are islanders. The land is where we walk, but the sea is where we live. This protection is an honor to my people."

Chile also plans to create another marine protected area around the Diego Ramírez Islands, a small archipelago off South America's Cape Horn.

Together, the three new marine parks would protect an area twice the size of Germany.

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(kw, afp, reuters, oneOcean.fm)

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