SEA LIFE London Aquarium establishes new Marine Protected Area in the South Pacific
On 19th July, the SEA LIFE London Aquarium celebrated the establishment of a major new sponsored marine protected area (MPA) by opening a city centre window into the South Pacific Ocean complete with a dazzling curtain of Fijian flowers. The new MPA in Moon Reef Fiji, is home to the areas only remaining pod of Spinner Dolphins, and will also help protect some of world’s most spectacular coral species and reef fish.
Guests to the SEA LIFE London Aquarium will be able to get a small snapshot by looking through a new “window” display featuring just some of the marine life the SEA LIFE London Aquarium’s MPA will support. Both the display and MPA were declared officially open when a specially commissioned curtain of stunning Fijian flowers was hung and a beautiful Orchid ribbon cut.
In partnership with marine conservation organisation, South Pacific Projects, and local island communities, the project will also involve an environmental outreach and education programme with villages and schools in the region.
“Fiji is home to some incredibly special marine life, including one third of the world’s coral, and we’re delighted to be supporting a project that will help protect it,” said Toby Forer, General Manager at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium.
“Conservation is essential to a visit here - as well as entertaining our guests; we aim to raise awareness for the global issues that threaten aquatic life. With our new display and related talks we’ll bring to life the whole subject of MPAs, why they are important and the kind of long term impact projects like this one can have. 30% of the world’s reefs are already severely damaged and MPAs are currently the best way to help preserve them. Unless we take action now that figure will rise drastically and coral reefs may not even exist for future generations.”
Howard Foster, Managing Director of South Pacific Projects added, “The Moon Reef MPA will make a huge difference to both the marine life in the area and the local fishing communities. The suspension of fishing activity and regulation of tourist activity will protect a variety of coral, plus the only pod of Spinner Dolphins in the islands. Critically, it will also replenish fish stocks and help safeguard the future of a local economy virtually entirely dependent on fishing. The fact that it has the full support and co-operation of the community makes it all the more powerful and we will seek to enhance its success through outreach and education with the local population and schools.”
South Pacific Projects
South Pacific Projects is a UK based non-profit marine conservation organisation working in Fiji. Their SCUBA diving, research and educational projects empower Fijian coastal communities to sustainably manage their threatened marine resources in order to secure them for future generations.
Marine Protected Areas
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas where all human/fishing activity is suspended to conserve the natural environment. MPAs are recognised as an effective way to help maintain fish populations and contribute to the long term sustainabilty of fishing communities.
The concept is to create an area where the local populations of sea creatures can thrive creating an over population. The expanding numbers then “spill over” into surrounding areas helping the local fisheries and the areas surrounding the MPA, while maintaining a healthy population.
Moon Reef is London Aquarium’s sponsored MPA located in Dawasamu District (Fiji).
Moon Reef is a tropical reef complex located 7.3km off the north-east coast of the main island of Viti Levu in the Fiji Islands and is home to a resident pod of Spinner dolphins.