The Pitcairn Islands Just Became the World’s Largest Marine Reserve

by Owen James Burke

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The waters surrounding Pitcairn Island are now part of the largest contiguous marine reserve in the world. Photo: Tony Probst/Mercury Press

The waters surrounding the most beautiful island no one will move to have just become the newest and single largest marine reserve in the world.

The British government announced on Wednesday the special protection of a 322,000-square-mile (830,000-square-kilometer) contiguous body of water surrounding the islands in an attempt to curb illegal fishing activity. Furthermore, there will be no seismic testing permitted, and the only people allowed to fish the area will be the local population — and only in their traditional way — reports National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala (who led a 2012 expedition which first established the case to protect the waters).

While only one applicant has so far expressed serious interest in taking up one of the free plots on Pitcairn Island being offered by the British government, it’s probably safe to say that a few more ocean loving escapists will begin to ponder a life on the rock.

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Above: A titan triggerfish is cleaned by a wrasse along one of Pitcairn’s pristine reefs. “People know Pitcairn because of the Mutiny on the Bounty, but their real bounty is the rich marine life underwater” — Enric Sala. Photo: Enric Sala/NatGeo

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30% of the UKs waters around the world are now marine protected areas. Map: NG Maps

Read more, and see Enric Sala’s posts from Pitcairn, at NatGeo — OJB

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