By transforming a former marine protected area into a new highly protected area, New Caledonia is banning devastating industrial activities like fishing, drilling, and mining on more than a million km2.
“By designating 10% of the park as highly protected, the [New Caledonian] government has started to uphold the commitment it made when establishing the park nearly a decade ago,” states Giuseppe Di Carlo, director of the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project, a group instrumental in helping orchestrate these new protections. “Progress has been slow — and there is still much to do — but this important step forward will help preserve New Caledonia’s marine environment for ocean life, the local community, and future generations.”
Ten years ago, the government of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France located in the western Pacific Ocean, converted its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) into a marine protected area called the Natural Park of the Coral Sea. However, only 2.4% of the 1.3-million-square-kilometer EEZ was highly covered, allowing industrial activities such as fishing, drilling, and permitted mining on 97.6% of the area. Now that this zone is highly protected, sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, whales, and seabirds can thrive once more since habitats and migratory corridors will be preserved. This decision to highly protect 10% of the EEZ is part of New Caledonia’s determination to implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, an agreement calling for saving 30% of the planet’s oceans by 2030. So far, 8.2% of the global ocean is under protection, and only 2.9% is highly protected. Caledonia’s MPA protection counts as France’s effort – one of nine countries that have saved at least 10% of their EEZ.