March 28, 2006

Island nation creates third largest marine park

CURITIBA, Brazil (Reuters) - A tiny island nation in the
Pacific Ocean has created the world's third-largest marine
reserve, as global efforts to preserve biodiversity widen to
include everything from insects to fish to forests.

President Anote Tong of the Republic of Kiribati announced
the formation of the park on Tuesday at the 8th United Nations
conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity under way
this week in Brazil.

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area bans commercial fishing
to protect more than 120 species of coral and 520 species of
fish inside its 73,800 sq miles. It is the world's first marine
park with deep-sea habitat, including underwater mountains.

Bigger reserves are located in Australia and Hawaii.

"If the coral and reefs are protected, then the fish will
grow and bring us benefit," the president said. "In this way
all species of fish can be protected so none become depleted or

Kiribati is located in the central Pacific between Hawaii
and Fiji. It is the largest atoll nation in the world, with 33
islands stretching across several hundred miles.

The New England Aquarium in the United States and
Conservation International, a non-governmental organization,
are helping the tiny country set up the reserve.

The two organizations will help set up an endowment that
pays for the park's management costs and compensates the
government for revenue lost from granting fewer commercial
fishing licenses.

Subsistence fishing will be allowed in the park for local

"This is a major milestone for marine conservation efforts
in the Pacific and for island biodiversity," said Russell A.
Mittermeier, president of Conservation International.