Monday, August 25, 2014

Pacific Leaders Protecting the Ocean

One of the most exciting developments in conservation recently has been the drive to create national park-scale marine protected areas.  The designation of super-mpas was an issue I worked on 6 years ago when I led the grassroots campaign to build public support for the creation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.  It is exciting to see the movement spreading across the Pacific today.

If you want to know about these protections, there are many hard working, dedicated people helping to put these protections in place.  Those people can offer insight to the global movement to protect the ocean.

Palau is currently working on a plan to close down 80% of their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to commercial fishing.  President Tommy Remengesau has promoted his plan all across the globe, including on one of the world's biggest stages, the United Nation's General Assembly.  The plan was a major focus at last month's Pacific Islands Forum.  Nearly everyone who reads this blog knows someone from Palau.  If you want to know more about Palau's plans to protect fish stocks for local people, you should ask them about it.

The Cook Islands also made a big deal at the Pacific Islands Forum of their plan to create a marine park over more than half their EEZ, which is four times as large as California.  The plan was first announced in 2012 and should be in place by next year.  My friend Jess Cramp, international shark hero, is one of the many people working on the plan.

Kiribati has been working for 10 years to create the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. According to the Star Advertiser, Kiribati President Anote Tong, "hopes the shuttering of those 157,000 square miles to industrial fishing practices can be seen as a key early step to creating more widespread conservation zones across the Pacific -- a way to help the ocean's dwindling fishing stocks recover for sustainable, future use."  If you have questions about what is taking place in Kiribati, you can ask my good friend Laurie Peterka about it.  She's there as I write this working with the government to protect sharks.

And why does this matter?  The creation of super-mpas is being discussed in the pages and comments section of the Marianas Variety today.  This particular marine protected area is thousands of miles away from Saipan and does not affect anyone living there; therefore I will reserve comment lest my words on this blog be confused as representing my employer.

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