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October 16, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Niue’s Waters a Sanctuary for Pacific fish

Niue announced a new marine sanctuary that will protect 126,909 square kilometres of its oceans on October 6, seeking to safeguard the future of the nation’s unique natural environment.

The sanctuary will cover 40% of Niue’s Exclusive Economic Zone, encompassing the main island, submerged atolls, and surrounding reefs — including the Beveridge Reef, habitat to a large population of the threatened grey reef shark.

Once established, it will be the 28th largest marine protected area in the world.

The reserve comes as part of a Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) project to safeguard the nation’s natural resources. NOW director, Brendon Pasisi, told National Geographic it was “no small feat for a small, developing island-state to make such a tremendous and tangible contribution to ocean conservation.”

Niue’s Premier Toke Talagi said the move “is an investment in the stability and certainty of our children’s future. We simply cannot be the generation of leaders who have taken more than they have given to this planet and left behind a debt our children cannot pay.”

Niue’s announcement arrives amid global concern about ocean ecosystems. Overfishing has devastated open-ocean fish populations, and a changing climate is resulting in warmer, more acidic waters, which are harmful to coral reefs.

It also concurs with a global movement towards ocean preservation. Chile recently announced two new marine reserves, which together would equate to an area the size of France, while Mexico has announced the protection of an area incorporating the UNESCO world heritage listed Revillagigedo Islands — the largest marine reserve of its kind in North America.

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