The government of French Polynesia today unveiled its intention to classify the waters of the Marquesas Islands as a marine reserve. The announcement, made by Tearii Alpha, French Polynesia's Minister of Marine Resources, Mining and Research, came at the end of the weeklong International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Marseille, France.
The waters surrounding the Marquesas Islands are full of marine life, including various species of sharks, large marine mammals, and sea turtles, with more still to be discovered. In 2012, a scientific expedition in Marquesas found 20 marine species that had not yet been scientifically identified.
"A marine reserve would play a vital role in protecting the unique biodiversity of this archipelago for future generations in Marquesas," says Matt Rand, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts Global Ocean Legacy project. "We congratulate the government of French Polynesia, which has already done a tremendous amount of work to make this reserve a reality. We look forward to working with local government officials, marine experts, fellow non-government organizations, and local communities to help protect these diverse waters of French Polynesia and show the world their unique biological heritage."