On the heels of the weeklong International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Marseille, France, the government of New Caledonia today announced their commitment to ocean conservation and their intention to work toward creating a very large fully protected marine reserve in their waters.
New Caledonia's waters total 1.4 million square kilometers, within which lies one of the largest lagoons in the world. They are home to more than 1,000 species of fish and 6,500 species of marine invertebrates. Of these, there are a large number of sea creatures found only in the reefs inside the large lagoon including unique sea stars, nudibrachs, marine fish, sponges, sea urchins, and soft corals. And many species are still being discovered.
"New Caledonia has taken a positive step toward protecting their precious marine resources," says Matt Rand, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' Global Ocean Legacy project. “Pew looks forward to working closely with them to ensure that New Caledonia's marine environment is protected.”
On Thursday, New Caledonia and the Cook Islands signed a declaration to share scientific research about their respective ecosystems, a move that could have a major impact on waters across a very large regional area in the South Pacific if a marine reserve is declared.
New Caledonia lies 1,500 kilometers east of Australia and 3,500 kilometers west of neighboring Cook Islands.
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