Tahiti already is home to the world’s largest marine sanctuary, and plans to enlarge it even more to reach more than 350,000 square miles by the end of the decade.
The goal is to protect vital corals, which provide more than half of the oxygen on the planet.
Tahiti is made up of more than 118 islands stretching across five archipeligos in the Pacific, about midway between the US West Coast and Australia. It’s most famous island is Bora Bora.
It’s more formal name is Islands of Tahiti, also known as French Polynesia, which is an eight-hour flight from the West Coast.
These islands have long stood as a haven for dozens of threatened species of cetaceans, sharks, sea turtles and more. The expanded territory also has the goal of specifically protecting corals, a critical species which provides more than half of the oxygen on the planet.
As a PADI-certified diver, one of my best ever experiences was scuba diving in Tahiti. The colorful corals and even more colorful fish are magical, and it’s easy to see the need to protect them.
Tahiti 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 that 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, called Rahui Nui honors the spirit of this ancient practice. Nui meaning “big or great” in Tahitian
“Tahitians have reached their homelands in canoes, using sensorial navigation techniques,” said Matahi Tutuvae, local storyteller and cultural expert.
“Observing the natural cycles and being attuned to them was a matter of survival. Building up on that knowledge through generations, allowed for a deeper connection to places, in our sea of islands. Polynesians do not have a native word to translate ‘environment or nature,’ because it isn’t a concept separated from man. Today we honor our ancestors and also the communities who continue to build upon this Mana through their work, to ensure that our islands and people continue to thrive.”
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 the new category called “slow tourism”, which is take it easy, relax, and stay in one place for a while.
For more information, visit www.TahitiTourisme.com.
Find vacation packages at https://tahititourisme.com/en-us/vacation-packages/vacation.
For a link to French Polynesia’s sustainability and inclusive brochure, click on Tahiti Tourisme Sustainability.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
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