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New Caledonia Bans All Types of Extraction Surrounding Pristine Coral Reefs
The French overseas territory of New Caledonia announced Tuesday the highest possible levels of protection for some of the world's last unspoiled coral reefs.
All types of extraction, including commercial and industrial fishing, has been banned in the Chesterfield, Bellona, Entrecasteaux, Pétrie and Astrolabe coral ecosystems, according to a Tuesday press release from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which has long pushed the reefs' protection.
The New Caledonia government voted to set up marine protected areas (MPAs) surrounding the five reefs, safeguarding 28,000 square kilometers (10,810 square miles) of waters in all, AFP reported.
President Philippe Germain believes the action has created the largest wilderness reserve in the world, he said in a press conference, as quoted by La Dépêche.
Tourist activity is also expected to be rigorously controlled, making it harder for the 600,000 tourists who visit New Caledonia each year to access the sites, Reuters reported. Small eco-tourist groups and researchers may apply for permits for access.
The reefs and the surrounding waters provide vital habitats for dugongs, seabirds, nesting green turtles and humpback whales. It's also home to 1,700 species of fish and 473 different types of coral, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.
"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," Hubert Géraux, WWF-France's manager of the New Caledonia office, said in a statement.
The new protected reefs sit within the Natural Park of the Coral Sea of New Caledonia, one of the largest protected areas on the planet, spanning 1.3 million square kilometers (501,933 square miles). Its protections, however, are not as strict as it would be under an MPA.
Christophe Chevillon, head of the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy in New Caledonia, which helped draft the plans, said more could be done.
"Although we believe this to be a major breakthrough, we are convinced that New Caledonia can still go further and lead the way for other Pacific countries," he told AFP.
"In fact, the 28,000 square kilometers protected only represents two percent of the Coral Sea Natural Park."
The world's coral reefs are under grave threat from pollution, overfishing and the effects of climate change. The world has already lost about half of its shallow water coral reefs, WWF said.
Former U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, a visiting distinguished statesman at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, applauded New Caledonia's efforts to fully protect Chesterfield, Bellona, Entrecasteaux, Pétrie and Astrolabe reefs from industrial and human impact.
"Your commitment to preserve all of the remote reefs within the Coral Sea Natural Park, some of the healthiest and most intact reefs found on Earth, is commendable," Kerry wrote in a letter, published by La Dépêche, to President Germain.
Kerry urged the president to expand protections within the park to help strengthen conservation, cultural and economic benefits for New Caledonia.
"I encourage you to continue to establish fully-protected areas within the [Coral Sea Natural Park], safeguarding the seamounts and pelagic areas, to ensure longevity of fish populations for the local people and help preserve New Caledonia's waters for years to come," he wrote.
John Tanzer, oceans practice leader of WWF International, called on other governments to follow New Caledonia's example.
"This is the kind of leadership we need to see in coral reef conservation and we applaud it," Tanzer said in a statement. "With good management, these marine protected areas will help maintain fish populations and ecosystem health that will build the reef's resilience to the impacts of climate change in future. This leadership must inspire similar action by other governments."
- The 15 Most Beautiful Coral Reefs In The World ›
- Corals In New Caledonia Are Adapting To Future Ocean Conditions ... ›
- New Caledonia: Home of the World's Largest Marine Park ... ›
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.