Kiribati bans commercial fishing in vast Pacific marine park (Wired UK)


Warren Jackson // CC BY-NC 2.0


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The tiny island nation of Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean has
announced
 a total ban on commercial fishing in a protected
area the size of California from 1 January 2015.

The country’s Phoenix
Islands Protected Area
 is more than 400,000 square
kilometres in size, making it one of the largest marine protected
areas in the world. It’s also a Unesco World Heritage site,
covering two major coral reefs and many more atolls that resemble
what marine biologists believe most reefs would have looked like a
thousand years ago.

Fishing activity has been restricted in the area close to the
islands since 2006, when the park was established. However, the
rest of the zone was open to industrial tuna farmers, who have been
gradually ramping up their activities. The new declaration will
prevent any commercial fishing in both the protected area and in
the area around the southern Line
Islands
.

The aim, according to the country’s president Anote Tong, is to
allow the area to recover. Tong made the announcement at the Our
Ocean conference in the United States. “Let us pool our resources
to protect this gift, our mother ocean,” he said. “Inaction is no
longer an option.”

Marine scientist Amanda Keledjian of Oceana, an international
nonprofit focused on ocean conservation, told National Geographic that Kiribati’s announcement was
“very significant.” Decreasing the impact of fishing will “preserve
biodiversity, large predators, and reefs,” said Keledjian.

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Nonetheless, the park’s wardens will face difficulty in
monitoring such a large region. Aircraft and satellites will both
be used to ensure that the area stays free of commercial fishing
operations.

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17 June 2014 | 3:44 pm – Source: wired.co.uk
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