The pending proposal would add protection around Saint Paul and Amsterdam Islands, the Kerguelen Islands as well as the Crozet Islands which are all part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. The area is a remote overseas territory of France in the southern Indian Ocean that is known for its rich biodiversity.
As an example, the area is home to migratory and resident marine species such as whales, numerous penguin species, seals, tuna and orcas. Furthermore, Crozet and Kerguelen are vital breeding grounds for the largest king penguin colony in the world as well as the second-largest southern elephant seal colony.
The Southern Lands marine reserve expansion proposal which still needs to be finalised would extend the area by 1 million km2 and would include a new highly protected area around Saint Paul And Amsterdam Islands that would cover around 255,000 km2. In this area, all industrial fishing activities would be prohibited.
The move will more than doubles France’s globally highly protected waters and acts as a “significant contribution toward the global goal of protecting at least 30% of our ocean by 2030”, commented Dona Bertarelli, co-chair of the Bertarelli Foundation and Patron for Nature for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Jérôme Petit from the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project said: “As science continues to reinforce the value of large-scale, fully protected waters, France’s decision provides an important step toward a sustainable and healthy ocean. With the world’s largest exclusive economic zone – spanning 10 million square kilometres (3.9 million square miles) – France has an enormous opportunity to deliver global leadership on ocean conservation.”
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Photography courtesy of Unsplash.