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The Guardian: Tiny Pacific island nation declares bold plan to protect 100% of its ocean

Claire Turrell

Niue is creating a marine park to protect its waters, an area the size of Vietnam, from illegal fishing

The Pacific island state of Niue has announced that it will protect 100% of the ocean in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which spans 317,500 sq km (122,000 sq miles), roughly the area of Vietnam.

The water that surrounds one of the world’s largest raised coral atolls is the only place where the katuali is found – a sea snake that lives in the island’s honeycomb of underwater caves. Humpback whales migrate to Niue from Antarctica to give birth, spinner dolphins swim near the coast and Niue boasts the world’s highest density of grey reef sharks.

Yet the reefs of this isolated island in the Pacific Ocean, 370 miles (600km) from its nearest neighbour Tonga, are under threat. Illegal fishing is a serious issue in the Pacific Ocean and Niue is also experiencing the impact of the climate crisis, with warmer sea temperatures leading to coral bleaching and extreme weather damaging the environment and infrastructure.

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