Thursday, July, 07, 2022 04:21:14

Niue, a Pacific island nation, has declared that it will protect 100% of the ocean in its EEZ (exclusive economic zone), which spans 122,000 sq miles (317,500 sq km).

For those unaware, Niue comprises a highly dense population of grey reef sharks. Even humpback whales are found to migrate from Antarctica to Niue to give birth whereas spinner dolphins swim to the coast. The water surrounding one of the largest raised coral atolls in the world is the only place where a sea snake called katuali lives in the underwater caves of the island.

Despite such marine diversity, the reefs of this remote Pacific island, are under immense threat, given that illegal fishing activities have long been followed in the Pacific Ocean Niue is also witnessing the effects of the climate crisis with high sea temperatures resulting in extreme weather and coral bleaching, thereby damaging the infrastructure and the environment.

Niue Premier Dalton Tagelagi stated that frequent rough and high seas have washed away the sands from some of its coves. In addition, the island’s coral is yet to recover from Cyclone Heta which hit Niue back in 2004.

The self-governing state announced two years ago that it would safeguard 40% of its ocean. It now follows the steps of the Cook Islands in committing to 100% protection. The new policy was implemented in April and created the multiple-use marine park Niue Nukutuluea.

It is divided into zones, including the brand-new Beveridge Reef, an unpopulated atoll 120 miles from the island where scientific studies are allowed.

Another zone spans three miles for conventional canoe fishing, scuba diving, and sport fishing. There is also a common ocean zone for international commercial fishing as well as a conservation zone that allows the passing of ships.

Those who fish illegally and breach the marine park laws of Niue can have their catch and vessel seized and will be charged a fine of USD 321,558 (£255,000).

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