The government of Papua New Guinea has declared two large new marine protected areas, capping a six-year effort in consultation with local communities on how to curtail the harvest of threatened species and restore the health of fisheries that people have depended on for generations.
The MPAs, announced Nov. 12, surround the waters of the local-level government areas of Lovongai and Murat in the country’s northeastern island province of New Ireland. U.S.-based NGO Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which led their establishment, said in a press release that together they cover more than 16,000 square kilometers (6,200 square miles), tripling the country’s marine area under protection. They comprise less than 1% of Papua New Guinea’s marine territory.
The process of establishing the MPAs involved consultation with more than 9,000 people in more than 100 Indigenous communities, the press release said.