Today, at the Our Ocean conference in Malta, the Government of Niue announced the creation of a large-scale marine protected area (LSMPA) encompassing 40 percent of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Also at Our Ocean, the Government of Chile announced the creation of two new fully protected marine reserves, one around the Juan Fernández Archipelago and another in the area of Cape Horn, covering more than 1 million square kilometers of ocean territory.
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, leader of the Society’s Pristine Seas project, shared the news from Malta at the launch of National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey in Times Square via a video feed.
Niue’s 127,000-square-kilometer LSMPA will include the island of Niue, a remote nation in the South Pacific, and nearby Beveridge Reef, an uninhabited, semi-submerged atoll within Niue’s waters that is home to one of the highest density of grey reef sharks in the world.
The announcement is part of the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) project, a multiyear endeavor by the Niuean community to sustainably manage the island’s resources through a unique public-private partnership between the Government of Niue and Tofia Niue, a local nonprofit organization. As part of the LSMPA protection, Niue will also “lock up” a portion of its fishing area for conservation. This action ensures that the creation of the protected area contributes to an overall downsizing of global fishing, a critical act at a time of increasingly overexploited fish stocks.