31 Jan 2008

Kiribati says Phoenix Islands to become world's largest protected area

11:23 am on 31 January 2008

Kiribati says it has officially declared the Phoenix Islands to become the world's largest protected area to ensure its biological diversity and sustainability.

The protection zone, which is halfway between Hawaii and Fiji, will be 185,000 square kilometers and will consist of underwater mountains, coral reefs and more than 520 species of fish.

Kiribati's minister for environment, Tetapo Nakara, says the government wants to ensure a viable use of its resources.

"Certain areas of the Phoenix Islands will be declared a marine protected area. In March, we'll going to have the negotiation with the potential donors and after that we'll determine the timeframe. The main reason for this is part of the government's commitment to conserve the place and the biological diversity."

Tetapo Nakara says it hopes to fully establish the area as a protected zone by the end of the year.

The minister expects that the site will attract many tourists.