Fig.1: Juvenile Emporer Angel Fish, Pomacanthus imperator, is among the rich marine biodiversity of New Caledonia, now under protection through the creation of The Natural Park of the Coral Sea [photo source].
The legal establishment of The Natural Park of the Coral Sea, in New Caledonia, a Frence OCT, is a revolutionary decision regarding Coastal and Marine Conservation. The area supports more than 4500 km2 coral reefs, with one the globally largest individual structure among them (1324 km2) – creating an extremely rich ecosystem in terms of biodiversity. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in the newly established Marine Protected Area live 48 shark species, 25 species of marine mammals, 19 species of nesting birds and 5 species of marine turtles, not to count the number of fish species and other marine organisms. The MPA of New Catalonia provides more than 2500 tons of fish each year for the local population and is also a source of economic development through tourism. With this action the local government declares the importance of both biodiversity protection and climate change resilience for the sustainable future of the region.
The creation of the MPA also quadruples France’s contribution towards the United Nations protection targets for 2020 regarding the national jurisdictional marine waters under protection, from 4 to 16%, an achievement that should prove inspirational for others as well.
David Emmet, Senior Vice-President for Conservation International’s program in the Asia-Pacific stated that “This is a monumental decision for New Caledonia and the entire Pacific. Such a measure exemplifies what other countries in the Pacific can do to fully invest in the long term health and productivity of their ocean resources.”
Additionally Jean-Christophe Lefeuvre, Conservation International’s program director for New Caledonia said: “New Caledonians have always understood how much we depend upon nature—especially our oceans. The careful and thoughtful management of natural resources is essential to long-term human well-being. This legislation sends a powerful message that investing in the value nature can provide the basis for a healthy and sustainable society.”
The NetBiome-CSA’s upcoming results regarding the Biodiversity Valuation, Policy Briefs, Good Practice Guidelines for Biodiversity Preservation, etc. can and will contribute in the upcoming park’s development were the levels of protections and the multi-use activities’ zones will be defined.