Friday, April 13, 2012

Kiribati Meets Marine Protected Area Goal

     While free from the local stresses that degrade reefs or might cause coral bleaching, the Phoenix Islands have not been spared the threat of global warming. In late 2002 one of the hottest ever-recorded warming events that has affected any reef around the world hit the Phoenix Islands. Because of their remote and pristine nature, high levels of damage were restricted to small areas within the Phoenix Islands, with many reef areas showing greater resistance and resilience to bleaching than have been documented elsewhere in the world. Their remoteness and the guaranteed protection by the Phoenix Islands Protected Area will help the Phoenix Islands to remain as one of the least-impacted reef systems to climate change and serve as a model target for protecting and rehabilitating other reefs heavily degraded by humans.

        With a size of 408,250 km2 (157,626 sq. miles) it is the largest marine protected area in the Pacific Ocean and the largest marine conservation effort of its kind by a Least Developed Country (LDC).
        Kiribati first declared the creation of PIPA at the 2006 Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil. On January 30, 2008, Kiribati adopted formal regulations for PIPA that more than doubled the original size to make it at that time the largest marine protected area on Earth. In 2010 PIPA was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is the largest and deepest World Heritage site on Earth.

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