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Supporting Regional Cooperation in the Pacific Oceanscape​


The Pacific Oceanscape is a political commitment by countries of the Pacific Islands Forum to understand, guard and conserve the Pacific Ocean for the benefit of all. As a partner in the design of the Pacific Oceanscape, CI helped to create one of the world's most ambitious conservation initiatives — a framework for the long-term, sustainable management of an ocean territory four times the size of the United States.



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EditDefault Title:Field Chronicles: The Pacific Oceanscape[Optional]
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      Worldwide, the ocean is changing rapidly.

      The forces of climate change, acidification and overfishing are putting enormous pressure on our oceans — and on the human populations who depend on their resources. The waters are warming, sea levels are rising, and once-productive fisheries are collapsing. The challenge of tackling these changes — which, if left unchecked, will affect us all — is as urgent as it is enormous.

      But every Goliath has its David.

      For the threats to our oceans, that David just might be Kiribati — a tiny island nation roughly half the size of London — where President Anote Tong conceived the Pacific Oceanscape, an unprecedented effort among Pacific island nations to collaboratively and sustainably manage nearly 40 million square kilometers of vital ocean. Designed with support from Conservation International (CI), the Pacific Oceanscape concept was introduced to the Pacific Islands Forum by Kiribati in 2009. The Framework for the cooperative stewardship of their combined ocean territories was presented a year later, receiving unanimous endorsement by the heads of state and government of 15 participating nations.

      And while many of the collaborators may be tiny island nations with modest terrestrial areas, their expansive exclusive economic zones (EEZ) effectively make them massive ocean states. (The ratio of EEZ to land for Kiribati, for example, is a staggering 4,890:1.) Together, the nations of the Pacific Oceanscape have responsibility for some 10% of the world’s ocean surface — an area four times the size of the United States. These are economically important waters, hosting the world’s largest remaining stocks of tuna and providing nearly half of the world’s tuna catch. They are ecologically sensitive waters as well, putting the residents of nations like Kiribati, where the effects of rising sea levels already are being felt, on the front lines of climate change.

      The vision for the Pacific Oceanscape, now the world’s largest integrated conservation and ocean management initiative by area, stems from the establishment declaration of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in 2006. CI worked closely with President Tong and the New England Aquarium on PIPA — which encompasses some of the most pristine and coral-rich waters on the planet — providing both technical assistance and funding for its creation. Upon its full legal establishment and expansion in 2008, it became the world’s largest marine protected area at the time — an ocean territory the size of California and some 6,000 meters in depth — before ultimately being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site two years later.

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        EditImage Alt Text:Fish swimming around coral in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area
        EditCaption Title:2006
        EditCaption Description:CI works with Anote Tong, president of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, and the New England Aquarium to create the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), encompassing some of the most pristine and coral-rich waters on the planet.
        EditPhoto Credit:© Cat Holloway

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        EditImage Alt Text:Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia
        EditCaption Title:2006
        EditCaption Description:​All five Micronesian jurisdictions sign the declaration of commitment of the Micronesia Challenge. This formalizes their commitment to conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.
        EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Emmeline Johansen

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        Edit Image Alt Text:Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia
        Edit Caption Title:2006
        Edit Caption Description:​Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy pledge US$ 3 million each in support of sustainable financing for the Micronesia Challenge to preserve Micronesia's natural resources that are crucial to the survival of Pacific traditions, cultures and livelihoods.
        Edit Photo Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Emmeline Johansen
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        Edit Image Alt Text:Shark in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area
        Edit Caption Title:2008
        Edit Caption Description:​PIPA is expanded to include more than 400,000 square kilometers of oceans, making it the world's largest marine protected area (MPA) at the time.
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        Edit Image Alt Text:President Anote Tong of Kiribati
        Edit Caption Title:2009
        Edit Caption Description:President Tong of Kiribati introduces the concept of the Pacific Oceanscape, designed with support from CI. The Pacific Oceanscape expands on PIPA – and envisions ocean protection at a massive scale.
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        Edit Image Alt Text:Diver in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area
        Edit Caption Title:2010
        Edit Caption Description:UNESCO recognizes PIPA – an ocean territory the size of California and some 6,000 meters in depth – as the world's largest World Heritage Site.
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        Edit Image Alt Text:Arial view of island in Samoa
        Edit Caption Title:2010
        Edit Caption Description:Fifteen nations of the Pacific islands Leaders Forum formally endorse the Pacific Oceanscape, representing a new commitment among Pacific Island nations to work together to safeguard their future.
        Edit Photo Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Haroldo Castro
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        Edit Caption Title:2012
        Edit Caption Description:At the Rio+20 Summit, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces Australia's commitment of US$ 25 million in funding for the Pacific Oceanscape.
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        Edit Image Alt Text:Split image of staghorn coral and an uninhabited island in the Marshall Islands
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        Edit Caption Description:Conservation International provides US$ 350,000 to the Republic of the Marshall Islands as the first stage of a six-year investment aimed at strengthening protected area networks in Micronesia.
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        Edit Image Alt Text:Kevin Iro, Cook Islands Marine Park Founder
        Edit Caption Title:2012
        Edit Caption Description:The Cook Islands Marine Park is offically launched at the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum, which at 1.2 million square kilometers was the largest in the world at that time.
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        Edit Image Alt Text:Republic of Kiribati President Anote Tong with children
        Edit Caption Title:2012
        Edit Caption Description:​Hillary Clinton pledges to increase U.S. support of a conservation area, called the Phoenix Ocean Arc, an 800,000 square kilometer area stretching from the Phoenix Islands Protected Area to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
        Edit Photo Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Peter Stonier
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        Edit Image Alt Text: A fisherman paddles his boat in New Caledonia. © Conservation International/photo by Lily Clarke
        Edit Caption Title: 2014
        Edit Caption Description: The Government of New Caledonia legally establishes the Natural Park of the Coral Sea, the world’s largest protected area covering 1.3 million square kilometers.
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        Edit Image Alt Text: Fish in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. © Keith A. Ellenbogen
        Edit Caption Title: 2014
        Edit Caption Description: Kiribati President Anote Tong of Kiribati announces the closure of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area to commercial fishing by the end of the year at the U.S. State Department “Our Ocean” Conference.
        Edit Photo Credit: © Keith A. Ellenbogen
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        PIPA also set the standard for the establishment of formally protected areas within the scope of the Pacific Oceanscape. In 2011, the Cook Islands followed Kiribati’s lead with a commitment to declare the Cook Islands Marine Park, which would be the country’s enduring contribution to the Pacific Oceanscape. Presently being designed in consultation with CI and other partners, the more than 1 million square-kilometer marine park — comprising half of the Cook Islands’ total ocean territory — endorsed by the government in 2012. Coming just two months after Australia’s commitment of $25 million in Oceanscape funding, it is yet another sign that the momentum and political will behind the Pacific Oceanscape not only remains high, but continues to grow. 

        In April 2014, New Caledonia's Natural Park of the Coral Sea was legally established, making it the world's largest protected area to date. Over the course of the next three years, CI will support the Government of New Caledonia in designing the zoning and management plan for the multiple-use park. ​

        Most recently, in June 2014, Kiribati President Anote Tong announced that effective December 31, 2014, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area will close to all fishing (with the small exception of one island that relies on subsistence fishing to meet local needs). The closure will be a globally important test case for the conservation management of tuna and other oceanic resources.

        In his 34 years as a marine biologist and conservationist, Dr. Greg Stone, CI’s senior vice president and chief scientist for oceans, has never seen a more innovative or ambitious marine initiative.

        “The Pacific Oceanscape,” he said, “is a watershed moment. Because we’ve now taken a big chunk of our largest ocean on the Earth and said ‘We‘re going to manage this sustainably. We’re going to manage this in a fashion that will increase humanity’s well-being in this area.’”

        To Pacific Oceanscape Commissioner Tuiloma Neroni Slade, the sweeping vision of the initiative is grounded in pragmatism. “It’s a pledge to ourselves to safeguard our home,” he said.

        But to those of us around the world who watch their efforts unfold, it is increasingly clear that the nations of the Pacific Oceanscape — through their most generous gift to the world — are working hard to safeguard a home for all of us.

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        EditSection Title:Results
        EditSection Description:The Pacific Oceanscape is an unprecedented effort among Pacific Island nations to collaboratively and sustainably manage nearly 40 million square kilometers of vital ocean.
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        EditText:The Pacific Oceanscape encompasses 10% of the world's ocean surface.

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        EditText:The Pacific Oceanscape is nearly 4 times the size of the U.S. and more than 4 times the size of China.

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        EditResult field:of the world’s tuna
        EditText:The Pacific Oceanscape is part of the western and central Pacific tuna fishery, supplying more than 60% the tuna consumed globally.
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        EditSection Title:Working Together
        EditSection Description:CI works with many partners – from the heads of families to heads of state – to restore our planet's balance so that people everywhere can thrive. It's a serious mission but, as these stories highlight, it's a personal one as well.
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        EditImage 1 Alt Text:Kevin Iro, Cook Islands Marine Park Founder
        EditImage 1 Photo Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Toby de Jong
        EditImage 1 Header:A Team Effort
        EditImage 1 Link Url:/stories/pacific-oceanscape/pages/kevin-iro-a-team-effort.aspx
        EditImage 1 Content:Rugby league player Kevin Iro knows how to bring a team together. As the driving force behind the Cook Islands Marine Park, he envisions a place equally managed by all who depend on it.
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        EditImage 2 Alt Text:President Anote Tong of Kiribati
        EditImage 2 Photo Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Toby de Jong
        EditImage 2 Header:On the Front Lines
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        EditImage 2 Content:Kiribati President Anote Tong faces challenges unfathomable to most world leaders, yet he has gone further than almost anyone to protect some of the planet’s most pristine waters for the global good.
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