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World's largest marine protected area created in Pacific Ocean
Date:2/13/2008

slands 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 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., said CI President Russell A. Mittermeier. 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.

The Phoenix Islands were featured in a major article in National Geographic in February 2004 (http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0402/feature3/).

Three NEAq-led research expeditions since 2000 found great marine biodiversity, including more than 120 species of coral and 520 species of fish, some new to science. Some of the most important seabird nesting populations in the Pacific, as well as healthy fish populations and the presence of sea turtles and other species, demonstrated the pristine nature of the area and its importance as a migration route.

Protecting the Phoenix Islands means restricting commercial fishing in the area, resulting in a loss of revenue that the Kiribati government would normally receive from issuing foreign commercial fishing licenses. NEAq and CI are helping Kiribati 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. The plan allows for subsistence fishing by resident communities and other sustainable economic development in designated zones of the protected area.

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Contact: Tom Cohen
tcohen@conservation.org
703-341-2729
Conservation International
Source:Eurekalert

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