Friday October 21, 2022

The Guardian

Six years ago, the then US president, Barack Obama, created the world’s largest fully protected ocean reserve by expanding the existing Papahānaumokuākea marine national monument in Hawaii, a world heritage site that include islands, atolls and archeological treasures. Now scientists have found that the reserve, which spans 1.5m sq km (580,000 sq miles) and is inhabited by whales and turtles, has brought unexpected benefits to the surrounding ocean.

Catches of yellowfin tuna, known as ahi in Hawaiian, were found to have risen by 54% between 2016 and 2019 near the reserve, within which fishing is banned, while catches of bigeye tuna rose by 12%.

The findings, published in the journal Science, by researchers from the University of Hawaii and the University of Wisconsin-Madison may strengthen support for a target, agreed by more than 100 countries, to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

“This research is important because it helps us understand that a large, carefully placed no-fishing zone can create benefits for these large iconic species,” said Jennifer Raynor, an environmental economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the paper’s three co-authors.

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