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World's Largest Marine Protected Area
Posted: 15th February 2008

Pacific White-sided Dolphin
Photo: Tom Kieckhefer (source NOAA)

The world's largest marine protected area has been created in the Pacific Ocean. The small Pacific Island nation of Kiribati has become a global conservation leader by establishing the world’s largest marine protected area – a California-sized ocean wilderness of pristine coral reefs and rich fish populations threatened by over-fishing and climate change.

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area, or PIPA for short, conserves one of the Earth’s last intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems. It consists of eight coral atolls and two submerged reef systems in a nearly uninhabited region of abundant marine and bird life. The 410,500-square-kilometer (158,453-square-mile) protected area also has underwater mountains and other deep-sea habitat.

Located near the equator in the Central Pacific (between Hawaii and Fiji) the Phoenix Islands form an archipelago several hundred miles long. They're part of the Republic of Kiribati, which comprises three distinct island groups (Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands and Line Islands) with a total of 33 islands to make it the largest atoll nation in the world. 

The creation of this amazing marine protected area represents a commitment of historic proportions. It also makes you wonder why, if this small island nation in the Pacific can protect all that biodiversity over such a vast area, why can't the UK Government stop trawlers catching the dolphins around our coast?

Related Links:
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