Some very exciting news for ocean conservationist was released on Wednesday, March 18th 2015, by David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It was announced that the world’s largest contiguous ocean reserve will be created around the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific, covering 322,000 square miles . This new reserve would be close to three and a half times larger than the landmass of the United Kingdom, which is larger than the state of California.
Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, says the reserve will be home to a beautiful array of sharks, fish, corals, and other marine life. The reserve will become the largest single marine protected area anywhere in the world. Sala says that the Pitcairn waters are so important because they contain some of the few of the world’s most pristine coral reefs that are still around today. He also says that the islands and the surrounding waters have not been touched by trawling and other effects of industrial fishing, so they contain pristine habitat and species that the world has yet to discover.
The regulations protecting the marine reserve will not allow fishing or seafloor mining within the protected waters with exceptions for traditional fishing by the local population. Only about 60 people live on the Pitcairn Islands, most of which are Bounty mutineers from about 1790 and their Tahitian counterparts. In September of 2012, the Pitcairn Council voted to create a marine protection area in their whole economic zone. This zone extends 200 miles out from their 4 islands. Of their 4 islands, 3 are uninhabited. Since the Pitcairn Islands are territory of the U.K., they Pitcairn people had to get approval for the reserve from the British government.