1.         Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati) (N 1325)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2010

Criteria  (vii)(ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1325/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1325/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 13,864 in 2008 through the Stakeholder Workshop for the Phoenix Islands nomination organized by Apia Office with the funding from France FIT and Italy FIT. USD 20,943 in 2008 to support the finalization of the nomination document. 

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Illegal fishing and overfishing by licensed and unlicensed vessels;

b) Degradation of seamounts;

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1325/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

The State Party submitted its report on the state of conservation of the property, as well as a copy of the 2010-2014 Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) Management Plan on 12 February 2012. The report provides a summary of progress made on the three recommendations in Committee decision 34 COM 8B.2 taken at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010).

a) Strengthen the management framework for fisheries, including the extension of no-take areas, measures to prevent degradation of seamounts and concrete timelines for the phasing out of tuna fishing

The State Party reports that the PIPA Management Plan 2010-2014 suggests a two-phased approach to zoning in relation to increasing the protection of the property. Phase One is currently implemented and 3.12% of the total surface of the property is designated as “no-take” areas. The State Party notes that, while small in relation to the total area of the property, the propostion of “no-take” areas amounts to more than 83% of priority threatened habitats of atoll reef islands, lagoons and coral reefs. During the second zoning phase, the State Party intends to designate an additional 25% of the property as “no-take” zone, which will also contribute to reducing the PIPA Offshore (tuna) Fishing effort. The implementation of the second zoning phase is subject to the establishment of the PIPA Trust Fund and will become operational only when the Trust Fund capital has reached a sufficient level to compensate the State Party for any losses in Distant Water Fishing Nation (DWFN) license fees associated with such limitations. Apart from the planned extension of “no-take” zones in Zoning Phase Two, the State Party provides no concrete timelines for the phasing out of tuna fishing.

The State Party indicates that because of the property’s remoteness, seamounts have escaped deep sea trawling to date. It also indicates that the property’s seamounts have great importance for pelagic and commercially important fisheries such as tuna and skipjack. The PIPA Management Plan 2010-2014 includes provisions for increasing the protection of seamounts, including by incorporating Winslow and Carondelet Reef Seamount systems into “no-take” areas during Zoning Phase Two, and by adjusting the PIPA zoning plan of the open ocean/buffer zone to specify protection levels for seamounts. The State Party notes that the implementation of these measures is subject to the availability of resources, which emphasizes the importance of the capitalisation of the Trust Fund.

b) Ensure an appropriate and sustainable budget towards management of Phoenix Islands Protected Area through a funded and functional trust fund or through other appropriate mechanisms

The State Party notes that a GEF/UNEP poject for a total amount of USD 2,663,100 to support the implementation of the Management Plan is under implementation since November 2011 and is expected to cover core funding for PIPA management needs until 2014, in anticipation of the operationalization of the PIPA Conservation Trust Fund. The Trust funding members made a commitment to capitalize the Trust Fund with an initial endowment of USD 13.5 million before the end of 2014. It is anticipated that this endownment will support core PIPA management costs at approximately USD 300,000 per year. The PIPA Trust Executive Director has developed a fundraising framework for review and endorsement by the Trust’s Board in March 2012. The framework targets private foundations, individual donors, institutional and government donors. Conservation International has committed USD 2.5 million to the Trust, subject to matching funds.

c) Ensure capacities and resources for refined and systematic monitoring, surveillance and law enforcement

The State Party recognizes the need for effective surveillance and enforcement of the property and indicates the significant challenges in terms of technology, capacity and resources due to its remoteness and large size. Currently the property is surveyed through aerial surveillance from domestic planes, including support from Australia and New Zealand, sea surveillance by patrol boat (1-2 patrol runs a year to PIPA), and land-based surveillance. The State Party notes that it has developed a surveillance and enforcement programme for its entire Exclusive Economic Zone that is targeted at preventing illegal fishing and monitoring of licenced vessels. An enforcement plan has been designed including licences, permits, and associated penalties for non-compliance. The properties’ Management Plan lists a number of initiatives that are currently assisting with the surveillance programme design and increased patrolling exercises, including the 2009 sister agreement with the World Heritage property Papahānaumokuākea. Initial funding for increased surveillance is provided through the GEF/UNEP project. The State Party notes its plans to increase human resources and infrastructure on Kanton Atoll, including an atoll-based boat. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the property’s Management Plan 2010-2014 is currently being implemented and seeks to establish a management system that can adequately protect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. They underscore that the State Party has also successfully attracted initial project funding to cover basic management operational needs and is undertaking efforts for the operationalization and capitalisation of the Trust Fund to allow coverage of core management costs up to approximately USD 300,000 annually. They note that until the Trust Fund is capitalised and income from the Trust Fund is disbursed that the proposed “long term” coverage of “no-take” areas, including their adequate monitoring and surveillance, and level of protection proposed for the property will not be realised. No contributions to the Trust Fund were reported officially by the State Party and the funds promised by partners need to materialise.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note that a phased zoning scheme is the cornerstone of the management system used for the conservation of the property, and note the importance that the zones are designed to allow sustainable, long-term conservation of the OUV of the property. They note that future refining of the zonation should consider the ecological significance of all no-take zones (existing and anticipated) in relation to the OUV of the property, and the most effective configuration of zones in relation to threats from current or predicted extraction.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further note the challenges for law enforcement in this large and remote area. Currently, it is unclear to what extent the currently existing no-take areas are monitored (or plan to be monitored) adequately and continuously. Considering the large size of the area and associated high costs for surveillance, they recommend it is essential that priority areas are defined for surveillance. As in other large marine World Heritage sites, surveillance costs have been reduced efficiently by targeting patrolling activities to the areas ecologically most significant to the OUV of the property and with the highest risks of resource extraction.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.13

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2.  Recalling Decision 34 COM 8B.2, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3.  Welcomes the State Party’s effort in attracting a preliminary financial contribution for the implementation of the 2010-2014 Management Plan from the Global Environment Facility, and for the design of a fundraising framework for the envisaged Trust Fund for the property;

4.  Notes the essential importance of the establishment and full capitalisation of the Trust Fund to the long term conservation of the property, and requests the State Party, with the support of its partners, to:

a)  Ensure the Trust Fund is fully capitalised, operational, and disbursing funds,

b)  Provide a clear financial plan outlining funds to be allocated for core managment needs, including the proportion to compensate the State Party for the loss in tuna fishing licences fees ,

c)   Enable the extension of no-take zones for the property no later than 2014;

5.  Considers that the envisaged future extension of the zonation, as requested by the Committee at the time of inscription as an essential requirement, should consider the Outstanding Universal Value of the property by establishing no-take zones in the areas of greatest ecological significance, and consider the level of threat posed to each zone from both legal and illegal resource extraction;

6.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2015 a report on the progress made with the management of the property, in particular measures addressing illegal and overfishing of inshore and offshore fisheries, prevention of the degradation of seamounts, extension, surveillance and enforcement of no-take zones and establishment of long-term sustainable financing of the property’s management system, including the full capitalisation of the initial endowment of the Trust Fund for the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.