Feature Story

Tongatapu is an uplifted coral reef lying on a geologically active zone. The relief of the island is relatively flat, with minor rolling slopes on the southern and eastern coasts. The island is 40 km long, has an area of about 257 km2 and is shaped roughly like a pair of cupped hands ‘cradling’ an extensive double lagoon system – the Fanga’uta and Fanga-kakau lagoons (referred to collectively as the Fanga’uta Lagoon).

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Since 1996, Colombia has been working to conserve important biodiversity and maintain ecosystem services through consolidation of a National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) that is managed in a participatory, decentralized, and coordinated manner. As part of this process, the Colombian Institute for Marine and Coastal Research (INVEMAR) conducted a study to identify ecosystems that were priorities for biodiversity conservation, and found that marine and coastal ecosystems were significantly under-represented in the national protected area system.

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India is the second largest producer of fish in the world, and, for most of the country’s coastal communities, the sea has always provided their food and income. In recent decades, greater demand for fish, driven by a growing population, changing market forces, and increased commercial fishing activity (including illegal fishing) to meet global fish demands, has resulted in serious supply shortfalls.

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Biodiversity is a key driver of economic development in the Seychelles. In 2016 alone, the country hosted 327,000 international tourists and the number of visitors has been increasing by 10 percent each year. Over 40 percent of these tourists visit the spectacular terrestrial and marine protected areas that the Seychelles has as key tourism attractions.

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Until now, the protected area estate of Comoros has included only a single gazetted site – the Mohéli Marine National Park, which was established in 2001 in an effort to counter the social, economic, and environmental threats posed to biodiversity by rapid population growth, over-exploitation of resources, and poverty.

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Being just a 30-minute boat ride away from the coast of Hoi An, one of Viet Nam’s most visited world heritage sites, the Cham Islands, have become a popular tourist destination. The eight islands sit at the center of a marine protected area and boast a lush tropical forest and great environmental and marine diversity, including approximately 277 species of coral, 270 species of marine fish, five species of lobsters and 97 species of mollusk.

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At the apex of the Coral Triangle lies the Philippines, comprising over 7,500 islands, with a coastline of some 36,285 km, and surrounded by six different seas. These waters are ranked third in the world in terms of marine biodiversity, hosting more than 460 reef-building coral species, the global epicentre of shorefish diversity, and a wide range of habitats that include 123 marine key biodiversity areas, which are recognized as being of international importance for biodiversity conservation.

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In the past, inadequate regional planning and uncoordinated exploitation of marine and coastal resources has had detrimental effects on the functioning and sustainability of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem. A key outcome of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem Programme has been the establishment of a multisectoral, intergovernmental body to drive an ecosystem approach to governance of this valuable, shared ecosystem – this is the Benguela Current Commission.

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Cold, slow, and bursting with life – this is the Humboldt Current, a stream of sub-Antarctic water that flows in a northerly direction along the coasts of Chile and Peru, before veering westward across the Pacific to bathe the Galapágos Islands. These nutrient-rich waters support some of the densest populations of fish found anywhere in the world – millions of anchovies, sardines and jack mackerel provide food for an extraordinary abundance of other marine fauna both at sea and on the shore.

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The Russian Federation encompasses more than a fifth of the world’s ocean shelf and has one of the longest coastlines in the world. This coastline weaves through thirteen seas and three oceans, and extends to some of the most isolated regions of the planet. Much of this area lies within the icy Arctic Circle.

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