20 Jun 2014

US ocean reserve extension welcomed

3:42 pm on 20 June 2014

Kiribati's President Anote Tong has welcomed U.S President Barack Obama's announcement to put a broad swath of the central Pacific off limits to fishing, energy exploration and other activities.

The United States, Palau, the Cook Islands, and the Bahamas unveiled their plans on Tuesday, following Kiribati's announcement on Monday that commercial fishing would end in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area at the end of the year.

Under the US plan, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument would be expanded from almost 225,000 square kilometres to more than 2 million square kilometres - all of it adjacent to seven islands and atolls controlled by the United States.

It will include waters up to 370 kilometres offshore from these US territories.

President Tong says the decision is great news for the Pacific.

He says this is what was intended when the Pacific Oceanscape was being advocated.

President Tong says the World Heritage listed Phoenix Island Protected Area, or PIPA, will be closed to all commercial fishing by the end of 2014, with a small exemption for subsistence fishing around Kanton Island.