Niue and Chile announce the creation of new marine protected areas at the 2017 “Our Ocean” conference

On 5 October 2017 at the Our Ocean conference hosted by the European Union in Malta, the Government of Niue announced the creation of a marine protected area (MPA) encompassing 40% of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  At the same conference, the Government of Chile announced the creation of three new MPAs, bringing the total proportion of Chilean EEZ under protection to almost 46%.  These were among many commitments made at the conference by States, international organisations, multinational companies and others in pursuit of marine environmental protection and sustainability.

Niue is a self-ruling country in the South Pacific that enjoys “Free Association with the Government of New Zealand”.  As part of the MPA, Niue will ban commercial fishing activity throughout the protected area and allow indigenous, artisanal fishing in limited areas.  On the other side of the Pacific, Chile has designated more than 400,000 square miles of marine parks where all extractive activities have been prohibited since 2010.

The commitments to expand MPAs made by Niue and Chile contribute to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, adopted by the tenth meeting of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October 2010 (Decision X/2).  Aichi Target 11 calls for 10% of coastal and marine areas to be conserved, by 2020, through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.

Member States of the United Nations adopted a similar target in 2015 as part of Sustainable Development Goal 14.  According to a press release issued by the CBD Secretariat on 5 June 2017, the area of MPAs in the world’s ocean and coastal waters more than doubled, from 2.4% to 5.7%, in the period between 2010 and June 2017.

For the commitments made at the recent Our Ocean Conference, click here; for the text of the CBD, click here; for Decision X/2 of the Tenth Conference of States Parties to the CBD in October 2010, click here; for the CBD’s Aichi Target 11, click here; for Sustainable Development Goal 14, click here; for the CBD Secretariat’s press release in June 2017, click here.