French Polynesia's Ocean of Peace

Te Tai Nui a Hau, a concept meaning 'big peaceful ocean,' is helping drive conservation in the waters of the Marquesas Islands

The waters around the Marquesas Islands, one of the five archipelagoes that make up French Polynesia, are home to 35 species of coral and more than 550 fish species, including 26 species of shark and ray. The archipelago also is a major spawning area for bigeye tuna.

In June 2018, CODIM, the acronym for a council of Marquesas mayors, formally proposed that the French Polynesian government create a 430,000-square-kilometer (166,000-square-mile) marine protected area (MPA). Industrial commercial fishing, mining, and other large-scale extractive activities would be prohibited within the MPA, but artisanal fishing—from boats less than 12 meters (39 feet) long—would be allowed within 50 nautical miles of each island. This proposal would allow an emerging longline tuna fishery to continue outside of the protected area.

In collaboration with the mayors and communities of French Polynesia, the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project is working closely with fishers, scientists, and environmental organizations to help the people of the archipelago conserve the natural resources that have sustained them for centuries.