Pitcairn Islands Marine Protected Area
"We are so excited to receive the Blue Park Award - we are a tiny, remote island with a population of under 50 people... yet we are making a global contribution and are proud to conserve our ocean biodiversity and pristine waters for everyone." - Melva Evans, MPA Officer for Pitcairn Islands MPA
The Pitcairn Islands MPA encompasses the entire Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the territorial seas of the Pitcairn Islands, a group of four small islands in the central South Pacific Ocean, covering nearly 850,000 square kilometers. The MPA protects a wide range of ecosystems and species, including tropical coral reefs, rocky reefs, sandy beaches, and deep-water ecosystems. A variety of critically endangered and endangered species live in and migrate through the MPA, including the Oceanic subpopulation of humpback whales, who use the MPAs’ waters as a breeding and calving area in the austral winter and spring.
Due in part to its remote location and isolation from human activity, Pitcairn Islands MPA protects some of the few remaining near-pristine coral reef atolls and coral reef ecosystems in the world. The blue waters in this region are supremely clear due to low ocean productivity, which allows corals to grow at unusual depths in cooler waters. The deeper growth of coral reef habitats helps improve the resilience of these ecosystems to potential climate change impacts and may serve as a refuge for various species from global climatic threats. Further offshore, the seafloor bathymetry is dominated by two seamount chains with a high density of over 90 volcanic seamounts rising from the sea floor.
Pitcairn Island is the only inhabited island within the MPA, the population of which was 42 permanent residents as of 2020. The MPA’s management is highly participatory, and the local community participates in management activities, such as the long-term monitoring of key habitats and species. While 99.5% of the MPA is a no-take zone, small zones surround each island that allow for limited subsistence fishing by residents of Pitcairn Island.
- Award Year
- Environmental, Conservation & Natural Resources Division, Government of the Pitcairn Islands
- 841,910 km²
- Other Awards and Designations
Photo Credit: Luke Hosty and Mark Tomlinson