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Kiribati closes protected fishery.

In our Autumn 2013 edition, Earth Island Journal reported that President Anote Tong of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati had failed to fulfill his promises to close the Phoenix Islands Protected Area to commercial fishing --despite having received a huge amount of international praise for his supposed environmental leadership. As Tong became a media darling, tuna fleets continued to operate in the reserve and even shark-finning, a practice banned in many countries' water, was occurring there.

What a difference a year makes.

In June, at the opening of the Our Ocean conference at the US State Department in Washington, DC, Tong announced that all of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area would be placed off limits to commercial fishermen. The California-sized reserve, Tong said, is "a major spawning ground for tuna, so its closure will have a major contribution to the conservation and rejuvenation of fish stocks and to global food security." The number one beneficiary of the closure will be Pacific bigeye tuna, which is now at only 20 to 30 percent of its historic level.

A day after Tong's proclamation, President Obama announced that the US would move to close all fishing in American territorial waters off of Howland and Baker Islands (which are to the northwest of the Kiribati reserves), doubling the amount of ocean area protected by the US.

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Title Annotation:UPDATE
Publication:Earth Island Journal
Date:Sep 22, 2014
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