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Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve Announced

The UK government today announced the creation the world's largest fully protected marine reserve around the Pitcairn Islands

Conservation groups welcomed the decision of the British goverment to establish the reserve around the Pitcairn Islands, an UK overseas territory in the South Pacific Ocean and important marine habitat.

The new reserve will cover an area of 834,334 square kilometres, more than double the size of the United Kingdom, and protect the pristine waters which are home to more than 1,000 species of marine mammals, seabirds and fish.

Modern surveillance technology will be put in place to clamp down on illegal fishing activities in real time. The 'Virtual Watch Room' satellite monitoring system was developed through a collaboration between the Pew Charitable Trusts and the UK-based company Satellite Applications Catapult. 

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Geographic Society have campaigned for the creation of marine reserve ever since a joint scientific survey of the Pitcairn waters revealed a vibrant and important ecosystem in 2012. Both organistaions congratulated the UK government on the decision. 

Matt Rand, director of Global Ocean Legacy, a project of Pew and its partners that advocates for the establishment of marine parks, commented saying 'With this designation, the United Kingdom raises the bar for protection of our ocean and sets a new standard for others to follow.'

'The Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve will build a refuge of untouched ocean to protect and conserve a wealth of marine life,' Rand added.

The Bertarelli Foundation announced to fund the watchroom for the coming five year as part of Pew’s Project Eyes on the Seas.

'Advances in tracking technology are enabling us to monitor the ocean as never before and make marine reserves truly enforceable; these solutions, along with the commitment of individual governments are bringing about changes in how we protect the marine environment,' Ernesto Bertarelli of the Bertarelli Foundation said. 

The designation of the Pitcairn Islands marine reserve follows a number of similar decisions of recent years to create marine proteted areas around the world. In September 2014, US President Barack Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument, first created by President George W. Bush, followed by Palau which created the world's first nation-wide marine sanctuary with the help of a crowdfunding campaign last October. In April 2010, the British government created the Chagos Marine Reserve in the Indian Ocean which remains the world's largest continuous, fully protected marine reserve.  

 

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