The Government of New Caledonia creates a big MPA in the Coral Sea– le parc naturel de la mer de Corail (nature park of the Coral Sea)

23 April 2014 | News story

During its 23 April meeting, the government of New Caledonia adopted a decree to create le parc naturel de la mer de Corail. As stated by the president, Harold Martin, New Caledonia is adopting an integrated policy towards management of marine areas that are under its shared responsibility with the French Government.

The marine protected area (MPA) encompasses the whole EEZ, as well as the territorial waters and the islands under New Caledonia management, totalling about 1.3 million km2! The park is now amongst the largest MPAs in the world. Its creation increases significantly the surface of French MPAs –16 % of waters under French jurisdiction are now under an MPAs status (4% before).

The MPA will be managed with a goal to protect the marine environment, to maintain ecosystem services benefitting human kind and to contribute to the sustainable development of marine activities within its perimeter. To assure proper management, a committee will be created, co-presided by the High Commissioner of the Republic (representing the French Government) and by the president of New Caledonia, and including representatives of relevant stakeholders groups.

Biodiversity and natural wonders of the parc naturel de la mer de Corail

The area was chosen to include outstanding elements and features contributing to an exceptional biodiversity.  Included are ridges, deep sediment bassins, seamounts, coral reefs and volcanic structures. The park includes the deepest site in France (7919m. deep). 25 species of marine mammals, 48 shark species, 19 species of nesting birds and 5 species of marine turtles have been inventoried.

The park’s creation is the result of a process started in 2012 with the technical support of the French Agency of marine protected areas that involved consultation with and participation of local actors. This important achievement follows the  announcement done by the New Caledonia Minister Antony Lecren at IMPAC3, the third international Conference on Marine protected areas, during the Ministerial segment. During the Bright Spot event of IMPAC3, New Caledonia signed as well a cooperation agreement with Cook islands who have as well declared their EEZ as Marine park (1.065 million square kilometers).

Thanks to the Government of New Caledonia for taking this action and for sharing this inspiring news! This new park is another important step for integrated management and preservation of critical marine ecosystems in the Pacific.  Congratulations!