Ocean Conservation Heroes: The Community of Niue

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, big conservation wins are possible. Niue is a small island nation in the Pacific but it just made a huge contribution to global ocean health by finalizing this week the creation of an enormous marine protected area comprising 40% of the country’s vast ocean territory.  The new protected area encompasses the island of Niue itself, various seamounts and offshore reefs, and the spectacular Beveridge Reef, an uninhabited, semi-submerged atoll.  It conserves 49,000 square miles of ocean — more than 30 square miles of protection for each resident!

This act was only possible because of Niue’s extraordinary community. For years, the Niuean community worked together on the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) project— led by a unique public-private partnership between the Government of Niue and a local non-profit Tofia Niue—to better understand their local environment and plan for a sustainable future.  To aid in their efforts, the Niuean community enlisted support from National Geographic’s Pristine Seas program and the philanthropic organization Oceans Five. Now that Niue exceeds its commitments to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) targets, they are calling on other nations in the region to follow suit.  We will need more leaders like them to achieve 30% of the ocean protected by 2030!

Image: Manu San Felix, National Geographic Society Pristine Seas

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