The creation in June 2006 of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, followed in 2010 by Britain’s Chagos Marine Protected Area in the Indian Ocean and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve off Australia, brought the global no-fishing acreage from 150,000 square miles in 2005 to 730,000 square miles today. Five other giant areas under consideration could bring the total to a whopping 1.7 million square miles — half the size of the United States — within three years, says Jay Nelson, the director of Pew’s Ocean Legacy program, who has been campaigning for most of them.
In Australia, which in 2005 created what was briefly the biggest true marine reserve in the world by making a third of the Great Barrier Reef no-take, a plan to rezone the country’s whole coastline had bogged down until the Hawaii and Chagos reserves were announced. Last year, the government ended fishing in half of the iconic and biologically rich Coral Sea, or 194,209, square miles, making it the biggest no-take zone in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Pew Environment Group is campaigning to ban fishing in the largely un-fished waters around a series of other remote islands: Pitcairn (UK), Easter Island (Chile) and the Kermadec Islands (NZ) in the Pacific, and Bermuda and South Georgia in the Atlantic. Most could be closed within three years. “There’s no question that it wouldn’t have happened without Papahanaumokuakea,” Nelson said.
Read the full article, Grand Food Banks, on the Honolulu Weekly website.