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Marine protected areas come in a variety of forms and are established and managed by all levels of government. There are marine sanctuaries, estuarine research reserves, ocean parks, and marine wildlife refuges. Here are 5 of the newest marine reserves around the world:
On December 5, 2016, President Enrique Pena Neito of Mexico signed a decree for four new reserves and five protected areas to be preserved by the Mexican federal government, totaling 23% of the country’s waters. Predominantly located on the Caribbean coast, Baja coast and deep ocean, the marine reserve will cover more than 57,000 square kilometers and will be the country’s largest natural protected areas.
This action means Mexico has not only exceeded the United Nations proposed plan of conserving at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, but they are also ahead of the 2020 deadline.
The new reserve areas bring the current protected areas in Mexico up to 30,000 square kilometers.
Ross Sea, Antarctica-
At the end of October 2016, 24 countries and the European Union came to an agreement to create the world’s biggest marine park, which will cover more than 1.55 million square kilometers of the Ross Sea around Antarctica. This announcement is one of the top ocean conservation stories this year!
The new marine protected area is predicted to come in force in December 2017, and the international agreement was reached at the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Australia.
Not only will this be the first marine park created in international waters, but scientists have estimated that the Southern Ocean provides approximately three quarters of the nutrients required to sustain marine life in the rest of the world’s waters.
President Tommy Remengesau of the tiny Pacific archipelago has announced the offer of a new 40 meter patrol boat to help control illegal fishing in its California-sized marine reserve. Currently, the nation only has one patrol vessel to regulate commercial fishing and oil drilling in the 500,000 square kilometer area. Two Japanese non-government organizations- Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation– have agreed to contribute to the project.
Palau has a strong history of marine conservation with its creation of the first shark sanctuary in 2009. The archipelago is often cited as one of the “underwater wonders of the world”.
Ascension Island, Saint Helena-
A new marine reserve nearly as large as the United Kingdom is to be created in the waters surround Ascension Island in 2017. The new reserve, which will be 234,291 square kilometers in size, is the result of negotiations between the Blue Marine Foundation, the Ascension Island Government and the UK Government.
Since September 2014, the Blue Foundation has been campaigning to protect the area- which is home to some of the largest marlin in the world, a large population of green turtles, colonies of tropical seabirds and several endemic species of fish.
Fishing will be banned in more than 50% of the reserve and a £300,000 grant from the Louis Bacon Foundation will be used to police the waters. Commercial fishing will only be allowed north of the island and will be carefully monitored.
Kermadec Islands, New Zealand
In September 2015, Prime Minister John Key announced plans for the new Karmadec Ocean Sanctuary. Legislation has been introduced with the intention of everything required for the sanctuary last month. The sanctuary is planned to be twice the size of New Zealand’s landmass and 50 times the size of the country’s largest national park in Fiordland.
The 620,000 square kilometer reserve will be one of the world’s largest fully protected areas and will ensure that 15% of New Zealand’s ocean ecosystems will be preserved. The Kermadec area is home to more than 39 species of sea birds, 150 species of fish, 35 types of whales and dolphins, a huge array of corals and crustaceans, as well as three endangered species of sea turtles.