NOUMEA—The Pew Charitable Trusts today commended the New Caledonian government for taking an important step forward in its commitment to establishing a large marine park in its vast waters. The government issued a decree on April 23 authorizing development of a management plan for the park, which would be known as the New Caledonia Coral Sea Natural Park. The move advances the government's earlier pledge to create a marine park spanning its exclusive economic zone, which is 1.2 million square kilometers—more than twice the size of mainland France.
The management plan will define areas and degrees of protection for the park. Pew is advocating for the designation of at least 200,000 square kilometers as fully protected, in which fishing and other extractive activities would be prohibited. This level of protection—recognized for fostering healthy marine ecosystems and maintaining fish populations, particularly highly mobile and migratory species—would preserve the waters of New Caledonia, a French overseas territory.
Christophe Chevillon, director of Pew's Global Ocean Legacy project in New Caledonia, issued this statement following the government's announcement:
“This decree brings us one step closer to ensuring that New Caledonia's ecologically important marine habitat and the life it holds will remain healthy for the long-term.
“Within New Caledonia's waters are unique areas deserving of the highest level of protection. As the management plan is developed, we are advocating for these special places to be safeguarded from fishing and other extractive activities to ensure they remain healthy and continue to deliver eco-tourism and environmental benefits.
“Pew is pleased to have been invited to serve on the government's working group for the New Caledonia Coral Sea Natural Park. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with fellow working group members and the local community to conserve New Caledonia's precious marine resources, and in particular, to ensure that significant marine areas are fully protected.”
The New Caledonia Coral Sea Natural Park, which accounts for 13 percent of France's global ocean waters, would contribute significantly to France's ambitious “Grenelle de la Mer” marine conservation goal of protecting 20 percent of its global ocean waters by 2020, with half off-limits to industrial and commercial extractive activities. The park would also advance global efforts to protect the ocean. Nearly 13 percent of the Earth's land surface is protected, compared with less than 1 percent of the world's ocean—which covers much more of the planet.
New Caledonia's waters are home to an incredible array of marine life, with more than 9,300 marine species, including 1,700 fish and 473 coral species, and one of the largest lagoons in the world.
Global Ocean Legacy, a project of Pew and its partners, is working to establish the world's first generation of great marine parks to protect and conserve some of our most important and unspoiled ocean environments. We are partnering with local communities, governments, and scientists around the world to secure a network of large, highly protected reserves. To date, our efforts have helped to double the amount of safeguarded ocean habitat worldwide. More information about Global Ocean Legacy is available at www.GlobalOceanLegacy.org
The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. Learn more at www.pewtrusts.org