14 February 2008

Preserving paradise in Phoenix Islands

Kiribati has recently established the world's largest marine protected area - the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), in a total of 410,500-square-kilometer of one of the Earth's last intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems.

After several years of joint scientific research between Kiribati and the New England Aquarium, with funding and technical assistance from Conservation International, PIPA was first created in March 2006. On the 30th of January 2008, Kiribati adopted formal regulations that more than doubled the original size of PIPA making it the largest marine protected area on Earth.

Russell A. Mittermeier, the President of Conservation International said: "the creation of this amazing marine protected area by a small island nation in the Pacific represents a commitment of historic proportions; and all of this by a country that is under serious threat from sea-level rise attributed to global warming. The Republic of Kiribati has now set a standard for other countries in the Pacific and elsewhere in the world. We are proud to be associated with this effort that helps the people of Kiribati, and we call on governments and private conservation groups everywhere to support Kiribati in its efforts and make similar commitments to protect their own natural systems."

Kiribati is working together with the Conservation International, the New England Aquarium and other partners to design "an endowment system that will cover the core recurring management costs of PIPA and compensate the government for the foregone commercial fishing license revenues. This plan allows for subsistence fishing by resident communities and other sustainable economic development in designated zones of the protected area."

"Keeping oceans and marine ecosystems intact and healthy allows them to better resist the impacts of climate change and continue their natural role of sequestering atmospheric carbon that causes global warming."

In 2007 Kiribati has applied to have the marine reserve listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its Outstanding Universal Value.

Te Mauri and Te Raoi (Good Health and Peace)!

Links:
Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA)
Phoenix Islands Movie, PIPA
World's largest marine protected area created in Pacific Ocean, Conservation International
Pheonix expedition reports, Primal Ocean Project, Global Marine Programs, New England Aquarium
Phoenix Islands World Heritage Area submission, UNESCO

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