by Mia Taylor
Last updated: 9:51 AM ET, Wed October 18, 2017
The world's oceans scored four important victories this past week.
A trio of destinations around the world separately announced the creation of new marine parks that translate into hundreds of thousands of square miles of protected ocean.
The tiny South Pacific island nation of Niue, home to just 1,600 people, announced 40 percent of its exclusive economic zone will be turned into a protected marine park, National Geographic reported.
Chile also just announced the addition of two new marine parks totaling 240,000 square miles to its waters, places where fishing and all other extractive activities will be banned.
Combined, the two country's conservation spaces total a whopping 290,000 square miles of protected ocean. To put that in perspective, it adds up to more than twice the size of Germany.
The three reserves are scientifically supported by the National Geographic Society's Pristine Seas project, which is designed to help save the last wild places in oceans around the planet.
Niue's reserve protects 49,000 square miles of ocean, which includes offshore reefs, seamounts and Beveridge Reef, among other things. The set aside represents more than 30 square miles for each man, woman, and child living on the island today.
"It is no small feat for a small-island developing state to make such a tremendous and tangible contribution to ocean conservation," says Brendon Pasisi, director of the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) project, a public-private sustainability initiative in Niue.
Niue's Premier Toke Talagi added that he hopes the announcement is an inspiration to the rest of the world, according to Lonely Planet.
"This commitment is not a sacrifice," said Talagi. "It is an investment in the certainty and stability of our children's future. We simply cannot be the generation of leaders who have taken more than they have given to this planet and left behind a debt that our children cannot pay."
Shortly after the announcements made by Chile and Niue, Mexico unveiled its own plans to create a marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean that will be the biggest of its kind in North America. The reserve incorporates the largely uninhabited Revillagigedo Islands, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mexico announced its plans at National Geographic's Our Ocean conference in Malta.
"With the goal of guaranteeing maximum protection of this World Heritage Site, our national legislation's strongest conservation category will be used, and all forms of fishing will be prohibited," Mexico's Alejandro Del Mazo Maza, of the country's National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, said in a statement, according to National Geographic.
The park will include more than 57,000 square miles and is designed to protect feeding and migration areas for sharks, rays, whales and other species. No fishing, mining or other intense resource development will be allowed.
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