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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1325/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://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

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 2 February 2015, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1325/documents/.

The report states that the Kiribati Cabinet adopted a decision to close, as of 1 January 2015, the entire area of Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) to all commercial fishing. The Ministry of Fisheries and and Marine Resources Development (MFMRD) has been charged with the task to inform all distant water fishing companies about the closure and to ensure compliance. The State Party report includes images on vessel movements, with only few vessels sighted within the property and indicating that these were all passing at a cruising speed and did not engage in fishing. A new Management Plan has also been prepared for the property for the period of 2015-2020.

The State Party further reports that the Trust Fund currently has USD 5 million as a starting base which were contributed by Conservation International and the Government of Kiribati. The Trust Fundraising Framework developed in 2011 is guiding further fundraising activities with the goal to raise USD 25 million to fully capitalize the Trust and an intermediate goal of USD 13.5 million by 2014.

Beginning 2015, the Waitt Foundation and Oceans 5 Alliance agreed to provide USD 1 million per annum for 5 years to the Trust Fund for the implementation of the new Management Plan. The report submitted by the State Party provides details on the allocation of these funds to core management activities.

The State Party also reports that a Tuna Working Committee has been established to determine a mutually agreeable approach to estimating the amount to be provided to Kiribati as compensation for the full closure of PIPA. Based on the monitoring of patterns and revenues from tuna fishing in Kiribati Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Working Group will prepare an analytical report that will be finalized no later than five years after PIPA has been closed to tuna fishing. 

The State Party further provides information on measures foreseen in the new Management Plan to address illegal activities, acknowledging that surveillance and monitoring constitute a significant challenge due to limited resources and remoteness and size of the property.

The State Party reports that presence of shipwrecks impacting on the reefs through release of iron into surrounding waters represents a threat to the property and asks for assistance with their removal.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The full closure of the entire area of PIPA to commercial fishing is a significant achievement and goes beyond the World Heritage Committee’s requests to increase no-take zones. The action should be commended by the World Heritage Committee, as this represents an important step towards minimizing the threats form overfishing and degradation of seamounts in the property.

Surveillance and enforcement of the Kiribati Cabinet decision on the property remain a challenge due to its size and remoteness and the limited financing available. The progress achieved towards capitalization of the Trust Fund is noted, in particular the attraction of new international partners which should be commended.  However, the overall available amount of funds for the management and surveillance of the property represents only a starting base and it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to continue its efforts to fully capitalize the Fund consistent with the target and long-term goal established under the Fundraising Framework.

The detailed information provided by the State Party on surveillance and enforcement programmes illustrates involvement of other countries, particularly Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America (USA) and France, and other organizations, in the joint efforts to minimize illegal activities in the region. It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for the efforts achieved and request it to further strengthen its collaboration with the international community in view of increasing financial and human resources, capacity building and surveillance technology.

The request of the State Party for assistance with removal of shipwrecks impacting on the reefs in some parts of the property is noted.  Additional information is required to fully understand the impacts on the property from the presence of shipwrecks and the process of removing them, in view of developing the most suitable measures to address the issue.

Information provided by the State Party on the recent change to the PIPA outer boundaries following boundary delimitation negotiations between the Government of Kiribati, the USA and Tokelau is noted. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit an official boundary modification for the property to ensure that the boundaries of the World Heritage property correspond to the adjusted boundaries of PIPA.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.14

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.13, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
  3. Highly commends the State Party for its decision to fully close the entire area of Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) from commercial fishing;
  4. Notes the information provided by the State Party on the currently available funds in the Trust Fund, and urges the State Party to continue its efforts to fully capitalize the Fund as a matter of priority;
  5. Welcomes the involvement of international partners into securing additional funding to cover management activities under the new Management Plan for the period 2015-2020;
  6. Also commends the efforts undertaken by the State Party and its partners in the region to minimize illegal activities; however, noting the concern expressed by the State Party that surveillance and enforcement of the Kiribati Cabinet decision remain a challenge due to the size and remoteness of the property, strongly encourages the State Party to strengthen its collaboration with other countries and organizations, including exploring other potentially applicable technological options;
  7. Also notes the State Party’s request for assistance with the removal of shipwrecks, and requests the State Party to provide further information on the impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property from the presence of these shipwrecks and the potential impacts associated with the various available techniques for their removal;
  8. Further notes the information provided by the State Party on the recent boundary changes to PIPA following the boundary delimitation negotiations between the Government of Kiribati, the United States of America and Tokelau, and also requests the State Party to submit an official boundary modification for the property by 1 February 2016;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, in particular on the progress achieved towards full capitalization of the Fund.