New Caledonia, a small island territory in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, may not be a popular vacation destination but it is making headlines for its progressive animal protection. The island announced last week that it would be creating the world’s largest protected area for marine life, spanning a 1.3 million square kilometers and covering the island’s entire exclusive economic zone, stretching out more than three times the size of Germany.
Although the island’s population is quite small, topping off at 250,000 inhabitants, the newly established protected area is home to 48 shark species, 25 types of marine mammals, 19 bird species and 4,500 square kilometers of stunning coral reefs. Global Ocean Legacy worked with the New Caledonia government to establish the protected area, and it hopes it will serve as a model for other island nations throughout the world.
“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,” says the group’s project director, Christophe Chevillon. “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,” he adds.
We also hope to see other island nation’s following in New Caledonia’s footsteps and setting more examples of marine mammal protection throughout the ocean’s of the world.
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