24 Oct 2015

Palau creates marine sanctuary the size of California

7:27 am on 24 October 2015

The government of Palau has approved the creation of a new marine sanctuary the size of California, that will be one of the world's largest protected areas of ocean.

The sanctuary will take up 80 percent of the Pacific nation's waters, and will be the world's sixth-largest area to be fully protected from fishing or drilling.

Palau's President Tommy Remengesau

Palau's President Tommy Remengesau Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

The President Tommy E Remengesau Junior says the move proves that a small island nation can have a big impact on the ocean.

He says island communities have been among the hardest hit by threats facing the ocean, and creating the sanctuary is essential to the survival of the people of Palau and future generations.

The ocean that surrounds Palau is often cited as an underwater wonder of the world and boasts remarkably healthy marine ecosystems that are home to more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral.

The legislation creating the sanctuary is expected to be signed into law by Palau's President on Monday.

A tourist boat at a wharf in Palau

A tourist boat at a wharf in Palau Photo: RNZI

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs