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Pacific People To Name Int'l Marine Reserves

Pacific People To Name World's First International Marine Reserves

Sydney, February 29, 2008: Greenpeace today launched a competition inviting Pacific people to name three areas of international waters as proposed marine reserves.

In between Pacific Island countries Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia and the Cook Islands - are three large areas of international waters that belong to everyone.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans Team Leader Nilesh Goundar said from these international waters the Pacific's greatest resource, tuna, is being stolen, with minimal or no benefits to Island nations.

"Greenpeace is working to protect these areas from overfishing and tuna pirates, by pushing for them to be closed to foreign fishing fleets," Mr Goundar added.

The three proposed marine reserves cover extensive areas that include biologically rich undersea mountains, migration routes of tuna species, habitat of endangered leatherback turtles and breeding areas of skipjack, albacore and bigeye tuna.

"This is an opportunity for the people in the Pacific to draw that line in the waves and enter the competition to name these future marine reserves."

Marine reserves are areas of the sea that are fully protected from human activities and are like national parks for the oceans.

Anyone can enter the competition. They can send an inspiring name for any of the three areas, and say why they have chosen that name for their Pacific heritage. Entries can be posted to Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Private Mail Bag, Suva.

Mr Goundar said in order to reverse the current decline in the health of oceans worldwide, and in the Pacific where bigeye and yellow fin tuna stocks are in trouble, Greenpeace is calling for 40% of the oceans to be protected by marine reserves in addition to 50% reduction in tuna fishing.

"It is undisputable that Marine reserves benefit sea life by protecting breeding areas, ocean habitats and fish that have been unsustainably targeted by fishing. We have the chance to create three tabu areas in the international waters that are sandwiched between Pacific Island nations, which will become marine reserves - the first ever in international waters. Tabu areas are not new to the Pacific as the peoples of the Pacific have already managed their oceans sustainably for thousands of years.

The Greenpeace Oceans team will be at the Pacifika festival in Auckland, New Zealand from March 6-8, 2008 to promote the competition.

ENDS

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