The coral reef in New Caledonia is home to more than 9,300 marine species including dugongs and nesting green sea turtles.
Earlier this week, the New Caledonia government voted to set up marine protected areas (MPAs) safeguarding 28,000 square kilometers (10,810 square miles) of water including the coral reef around Entrecasteaux, which is already a UNESCO world heritage site.
The French overseas territory has banned all types of extraction, including fishing, in the Chesterfield, Bellona, Entrecasteaux, Pétrie and Astrolabe reefs. Moreover, tourist activity in the area will also be strictly controlled, according to a press release.
Hubert Géraux, manager of the New Caledonia Office in WWF-France said, “We welcome New Caledonia’s announcement of the classification of its near-pristine coral reefs. These ecosystems are full of life – the ocean’s equivalent of tropical forests – and France, through its overseas territories, carries an international responsibility for their protection.”
The pristine coral reefs have been under threat because of climate change, overfishing and pollution now more than ever. About half of the shallow water coral reef population has already been lost.
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