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Pacific Oceanscape - Tuna Grounds Becoming Sanctuaries Pacific Islands Nations, September 4, 12

The world’s largest remaining tuna stocks are in safe hands, thanks to a group of small Pacific island nations who made new commitments to ocean protection last week. At the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands, the host country unveiled plans for a 386,000 square mile marine park – about the size of Egypt – while its neighbor, New Caledonia, also announced that it would create a 540,500 square mile marine protected area.
Both projects are part of the Pacific Oceanscape, an initiative between 15 Pacific Island nations to conserve and manage their ocean resources for future generations. The combined area – nearly 40 million square miles – covers about 10% of the world’s oceans and provides about one third of the world’s tuna catch.
Pacific Islanders especially depend on healthy ocean ecosystems for their livelihood and economic development. With declining fish populations, rising sea levels, warming ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and pollution, the oceans are changing rapidly and threatening their survival, according to Conservation International, the environment group working alongside the Oceanscape collective.
Kiribati took the first step in 2008 by creating the Phoenix Island Protected Area, a marine protected zone spanning 157,626 square miles, or about 11% of its exclusive economic zone.
Apart from the Cook Islands and Kiribati, other members of the collective include Australia, New Zealand and Tokelau, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and the members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA). The PNA member countries, which include Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati, are home to half of the global skipjack stock.
The environment ministers of Fiji and six additional territories also endorse the Oceanscape: New Caledonia (France), French Polynesia (France), Wallis and Futuna (France), American Somoa (USA), Guam (USA), and Northern Mariana Islands (USA).