UK designates world’s largest marine reserve

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Thursday announced the creation of a marine protected area (MPA) in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which includes a “no-take” area where commercial fishing will be banned.

The MPA will cover 250,000 square miles, making it the world’s largest marine reserve. The designation doubles the area of the world’s oceans under protection

Prior to the BIOT designation, the world’s largest marine reserve was the 140,000-square-mile Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument surrounding the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

BIOT consists of the Chagos Islands, 55 tiny islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The area is home to more than 76 species listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species.

Pew Environment Group commended the designation, calling it a “historic victory for global ocean conservation.”

“Nearly three-quarters of the planet’s surface is water, but surprisingly little of it is protected,” said Jay Nelson, director of Global Ocean Legacy, a Pew initiative.

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