This expansion celebrates 20 years of wildlife protection and industrial fishing bans in this region of the South Pacific
For more than 20 years, French Polynesia, also known as The Islands of Tahiti, has quietly served as the home to the largest marine sanctuary in the world and it is set to expand to reach 350,000 square miles by 2030.
The Islands of Tahiti are composed of more than 118 islands in total stretching across five archipelagos, only an eight hour, nonstop flight from the West Coast of the United States. These islands have long stood as an unassuming haven for dozens of threatened species of cetaceans, sharks, sea turtles and more. The expanded territory will also have a goal of specifically protecting corals, a critical species which provides more than half of the oxygen on the planet.
French Polynesia has forbidden any technique other than line fishing, and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is reserved for the Polynesian fishing fleet. No fishing license has been or can be sold outside of French Polynesia, and industrial fishing is strictly banned.
Rahui, the Tahitian ancestral practice which imposes temporary bans on the harvesting or fishing of certain marine or terrestrial species to ensure their preservation and renewal, is still practiced today. The announcement of the marine sanctuary expansion – named Rahui Nui (Nui meaning “big or great” in Tahitian) – honors the spirit of this ancient practice.
The sea is the Marae, the ultimate sanctuary and splendor of the world. It is a symbol of mystery – a symbol of respect – because it awakens the consciousness of space,” said Edouard Fritsch, President of French Polynesia. “The protection and sustainable management of our Ocean are rooted in our traditions and values. This is our contribution to the transmission of this whole heritage to our children.”
This tradition of strong environmental and cultural protection has made The Islands of Tahiti one of the most sought after destinations for sustainable travel and slow tourism.
1996 – Ban on any fishing technique other than line fishing, and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is reserved for the Polynesian fishing fleet. No fishing license has been sold outside French Polynesia, and industrial fishing is strictly banned.
2002 – Establishment of the marine mammal sanctuary protecting whales and dolphins.
2012 – Establishment of the largest shark sanctuary in the world in French Polynesia at 4 4.7 million square kilometer
2021 – Capacity limits on cruise ships to those of less than 3500 passengers to protect sensitive marine environments and the visitor experience.