The Tahiti Traveler

Polynesia, soon the largest marine protected area in the world?

The Polynesian president took advantage of the annual Conference of Parties (COP 21) to reaffirm the wish of French Polynesia “to make all of the economic zone an exclusive and giant managed marine area”. Two projects currently await validation by the government to see the day that could, in effect, make Polynesia the largest protected water zone in the world!

French Polynesia makes up 10% of the Blue Planet where the fish supply is still healthy and lagoons are preserved. Far from being subjected to overfishing, French Polynesia is actually a laudable example in the sense that net fishing is prohibited to that of long-line, and to the extent that the annual quota of 13,000 tonnes was not reached. But better early than never is the sentiment of the environmentalists!

The largest protected zone in the world

Two major areas have been identified as priorities to ensure the maintenance of the fish supply and the balance of the ecosystem: the first in the Marquesas Archipelago, on some 700 000 km 2, and the second, around the Austral Islands. This last project is defended by the American non-governmental organization (NGO) PEW and concerns a giant area of one million km2! The Austral Islands could thus become the largest marine protected area in the world ahead of Pitcairn (834 000 km2). Combined, these two marine protected areas would make Polynesia the world leader in the protection of marine resources.

Educational marine areas arrive in France !

In early December, Polynesian president Edouard Fritch even signed a draft agreement with the Minister of Ecology, Ségolène Royale, to extend the concept of educational marine protected areas. “Put in place, a year ago in Polynesia, these educational areas consist of entrusting a small piece of marine space to a school,” explained Olivier Laroussinie (Director of the Marine Protected Areas Agency) to Polynesian Channel 1. They have the double advantage of protecting the marine environment and educating children”.

French Polynesia now has six educational marine areas and this is certainly just the beginning! The goal of this step initiated by Polynesia is the protection of its primary wealth of course, the sea, and why not join UNESCO next?