To protect its corals, this Pacific island is issuing fines of up to €300,000

How to protect the oceans from overfishing, coral bleaching and mass tourism? To achieve this, an island country in the mid-Pacific has decided to take drastic measures by creating a marine nature park and the construction of heavily salted fines.

Photo credits: Damocean/Getty Images

Located in the South Pacific in French Polynesia, the state of Niue has removed this paradise from the world where one would dream of a retreat for a well-deserved long break. But this autonomous state, which covers an area about 260 km north of New Zealand, is struggling to conserve its oceans and corals, which have been hit hard by global warming.

In order to ensure maximum protection of its waters, the country has pursued an ambitious policy in recent months, creating a multifunctional marine natural park called “Niué Nukutuluea”. The park extends over several parts of Niue’s territory, including a coral island off the coast of the country that only scientists can access. Fishing is strictly prohibited. Activities such as traditional canoe fishing or scuba diving are available in some other specific areas.

Fine up to 300,000 euros

Objective (ambitious to say the least) of this marine park: to protect 100% of the oceans that surround the land. Anyone who does not respect the measures of this new marine park risks a hefty fine: up to 500,000 New Zealand dollars (about 300,000 euros). “We can impose much more severe penalties depending on the nature of the offence”said the English newspaper The Guardian, Brendon Pasisi, Niue’s director of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Protected areas in Niue Nukutulue are monitored through a Global Fishing Watch satellite observation system. Neighboring countries (Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands) are also monitoring, especially to detect illegal fishing activities.

To deal with climate change and its catastrophic environmental impact, many governments are restricting human activities in specific areas, turning them into marine protected areas.

There are more than 14,000 marine protected areas worldwide. In 2012, the Cook Islands announced the creation of the largest natural marine park occupying the southern half of the country’s waters.

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