New Caledonia Creates World’s Largest Marine Protected Area
The Government of New Caledonia has moved to create the world’s largest protected area on land or sea, the Natural Park of the Coral Sea (Le Parc Naturel de la Mer de Corail).
A new law brings under careful management a multi-use, marine protected area that totals a massive 1.3 million square kilometres, making it the largest protected area in the world.
Located 2,000 miles east of Australia in the Pacific Ocean, the Natural Park of the Coral Sea covers all of New Caledonia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the marine waters extending 12 to 200 nautical miles from its coasts. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the park is home to more than 4,500 square kilometres of fishery-supporting coral reefs, the deepest site in France (7919 metres deep), 25 species of marine mammals, 48 shark species, 19 species of nesting birds and five species of marine turtles.
New Caledonia itself is the world’s only stand-alone Biodiversity Hotspot, and a French overseas territory, which is highly dependent on its natural capital. Its coastal waters boast the world’s largest lagoon, which has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
In the next phase of the park’s development, the levels of protection will be defined. Ultimately, the Natural Park of the Coral Sea will be a multiple use area with various zones for economic activity and conservation.
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