400,000 Square Kilometers to Be Closed to Commercial Fishing

Written by on June 23, 2014 in Policy & Ocean Law

Kiribati is a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean that is home to one of the world’s largest marine protected areas (MPAs): Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), a UNESCO World Heritage site established in 2008 that is more than 400,000 square kilometers in size.

Coral reefs in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. Photo credit: Dr. Randi Rotjan.

Coral reefs in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. Photo credit: Dr. Randi Rotjan.

Starting on January 1, 2015, the entire MPA, which covers two major coral reefs and several atolls, will be a no-take zone. The announcement was made by president Anote Tong at the Our Ocean conference held in Washington D.C. this month.

Fishing activity has been restricted close to the islands since 2006, but tuna farmers have been very active just offshore. Now, there will be no commercial fishing whatsoever within the boundaries of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area.

PIPA is “a major spawning ground for tuna, so its closure will have a major contribution to the conservation and rejuvenation of fish stocks and to global food security,” Tong explained at the conference.

The goal of the fishing closure is to allow the area to recover. “Inaction is no longer an option,” Tong said.

Enforcement is sure to be tricky, but officials will have help from aircraft and satellites.

To learn more:

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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