Jane Jurgens finds Pacific Island marine reserves to soothe the consciences of eco-savvy snorkellers
This tiny nation became the first entirely solar-powered country back in 2012 — with a little help from the New Zealand government. Tokelau previously sourced its power from diesel generators,relying on imported fuels — which cost $1 million a year. Its new system compromises of solar panels, storage batteries and generators running on biofuel derived from coconut. The initiative generates 150 per cent of the power supply, with solar systems on each of the country's three atolls. Tokelau's government has used to the savings to fund education and health, as well as paying back grants and financial assistance from New Zealand. The project has made Tokelau the first country to meet 100 per cent of its climate-change obligations.
Getting there isn't easy (there's an overnight ship journey from Samoa), but you will neverfind clearer waters.
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Hawaii
The largest marine reserve in the world is twice the size of Texas and runs 1.5 millionsq km through waters off the north-western Hawaiian Islands. There are more than 7000 species protected by the reserve-including some never seen anywhere else — and the reserve aims to protect coral eco-systems from acidification. Aloha to that!
Marae Moana, Cook Islands
Earlier this year, the Cook Islands created one of the world's largest marine sanctuaries, taking up an area largerthan France. The 1.9 million sq km marine reserve is known as Marae Moana and aims to protect the lagoons, reefs and the legacy of the islands.
While commerical fishing and mineral exploration will not be banned outright, it will be ensured that it is undertaken in a sustainable manner. However, there is a core no fishing zone extending 320,000 sq km from each of the country's 15 islands.
"Together we had a vision to turn ourlittle country into the cleanest and greenest tourism destination in the whole wide world," the Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna told parliament. Dive in and see for yourself.
Another tiny Pacific nation, with a population of just over1600, Niue announced plans earlier this month to establish a new marine protected area that will cover 40 per cent of the island's exclusive economic zone. The 127,000 sq km marine protection area includes much of the waters around Niue itself as well as nearby Beveridge Reef, an uninhabited, semi-submerged atoll that has the largest density of grey reef sharks in the world. The initiative was part of the Niue Ocean Wide project to manage the island's resources through a public-private partnership between the country's government and a local non-profit organisation Tofia Niue. Organisers say the reserve will "lock up"aproportion of its fishing resource for conservation and help reduce global over-fishing threatening fish stocks.
With no streams to carry sediment into the sea and with Niue's landmass made entirely of porous limestone, the water is freakishly clear. Visibility can be up to 100m.
Palolo Deep Marine Reserve, Samoa
Of the Pacific's marine reserves, this is possibly the easiest to dive straight into. It's right next to Samoa's capital, Apia, and it features a blue hole surrounded by walls of coral and tropical fish. You can hire cheap snorkelling gear on the beach.
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