Kiribati: New home of the world’s largest marine reserve

Anenome fish in Kiribati's new ocean reserve | Image: National Geographic

It’s a well known fact that the world’s oceans are in peril, with governments worldwide doing virtually nothing to protect them. Well, at least not big governments.

The tiny island nation of Kiribati (population 95,000) has now created a new marine reserve, about halfway between Fiji and Hawaii, that is the world’s largest ever protected area of water. And it’s not just any old area of ocean – the California-sized reserve includes some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs, as well as eight atolls swarming with birds and fish.

Map image

In fact, the reefs included in the reserve are one of the world’s last remaining intact coral island systems – virtually untouched by humans.

All environmental action requires sacrifices, and Kiribati’s new reserve is no exception. OK, only 50 people actually live on the atolls that are part of the reserve, but together with the other islanders, they are expected to lose US$3 million yearly because of fishing reduction. However, it’s also true that all environmental action brings great benefits in the long term – Kiribati hopes to greatly increase tourism because of the new reserve.

It’s definitely on my wish list.

Click here for new research suggesting that not a single bit of ocean anywhere in the world has been untouched by human activity.

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