schooling Pacific double-saddle butterflyfish

Project

French Polynesia

Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy 

The waters around French Polynesia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific Ocean, make up the world’s largest contiguous exclusive economic zone.

At 5 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles), the territory’s waters span an area as large as the landmass of the European Union. These vast and healthy waters are home to 21 species of sharks and an exceptional coral reef system that supports 176 coral and 1,024 fish species.

The mayors and communities of the Austral Islands, one of the five archipelagoes that make up French Polynesia, invited the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy team to collaborate on efforts to designate a large-scale marine reserve in their waters.

In November 2013, the French Polynesian government committed to creating large marine protected areas in the waters around the Austral Islands (1 million square kilometers, or 386,100 square miles) and the Marquesas Islands (700,000 square kilometers, or 270,270 square miles). With continued support from islanders, President Édouard Fritch pledged in 2016 to implement by 2020 a marine managed area spanning all the waters of French Polynesia.  

In April 2016, residents of the five inhabited islands of the Austral archipelago—with support from the Federation of the Polynesian Environmental Associations and The Pew Charitable Trusts—asked the central government in Tahiti to create a large, highly protected marine reserve in their waters.

Separately, Marquesas mayors have been working since 2012 to safeguard their waters. With support from local communities and the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project, they formally proposed a 430,000 square kilometer (166,000 square mile) marine reserve to the central government in June 2018. This reserve would include an area for artisanal fishing to encourage economic development on the islands. 

The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project has worked closely with scientists, fishermen, environmental organizations, and local communities to develop marine protection scenarios in line with traditional Polynesian culture and community values.

Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Bertarelli Foundation joined forces in 2017 to create the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project. This effort builds on a decade of work by both organizations to protect the ocean. Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy initiative, established in 2006, helped obtain commitments to safeguard more than 8 million square kilometers (3 million square miles) of ocean by working with philanthropic partners, indigenous groups, community leaders, government officials, and scientists. Since 2010, the Bertarelli Foundation has sought to protect the ocean for future generations through marine conservation and collaborative marine science research.

Project Goals

Austral community leaders and Marquesas mayors have submitted separate proposals to the French Polynesian government for marine protected areas covering the waters surrounding the two archipelagos, both with strong local support. The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project continues to work with the government, communities, fishermen, and scientists to raise awareness about the importance of establishing marine protected areas.

Our Work

Podcast

Our Blue Planet–Protecting the Ocean

Episode 6

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Podcast

Three-quarters of our planet is covered with water—and it’s this water that sustains life. But our liquid planet, home to half of the world’s known creatures and plants, is facing multiple threats, such as overfishing and commercial development. That’s why leading scientists say that 30 percent of our oceans should be protected. Host Dan LeDuc explores why this 30 percent data point is important with two people committed to safeguarding the oceans: native Hawaiian Sol Kaho’ohalahala, whose culture and livelihood depend on sustainable seas; and Matt Rand, who directs the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project and has been working with people like Kaho’ohalahala since 2006 to keep our oceans healthy.

Article

Viajeros del Pacífico conectan a las personas y el océano para la conservación

La expedición a las Islas Australes también ayuda a recuperar métodos de navegación ancestrales

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Article

Después de cuatro días en el mar y en medio de una violenta tormenta, nuestra canoa viajera finalmente se aproximó a Raivavae, una isla del Pacífico ubicada a unas 445 millas al sur de Tahití. Mientras la lluvia y las olas azotaban la cubierta, yo me esforzaba por controlar el timón y mantener el rumbo de la embarcación. Si bien estaba feliz de divisar tierra, también empezaba a sentir nostalgia de dejar atrás el gran océano.