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Phoenix Islands Protected Area

Kiribati
Factors affecting the property in 2024*
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Other Threats:

    Degradation of seamounts

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Illegal fishing and overfishing by licensed and unlicensed vessels
  • Degradation of seamounts
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2024

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

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2024
Requests approved: 0 (from 2019-2019)
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2024**

N/A

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2024

No state of conservation report was submitted by the State Party as was requested by Decision 45 COM 7B.17. Still no response was received from the State Party to the World Heritage Centre’s letter transmitted on 19 November 2021 requesting further information about the State Party’s decision to lift the closure of the property for commercial fisheries and replace it with a Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Programme to sustainably develop the natural resources of the World Heritage property.

The letter requested the State Party to submit a report by 1 February 2022, including:

  • Details about the decision made;
  • An assessment of possible impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  • Mapping of the changes in protection resulting from the decision, including which no-take zones will remain;
  • The measures foreseen to enforce sustainable fishing practices outside the no-take zones under the envisaged MSP Programme.

Since no official reply from the State Party was received to the above-mentioned requests, there is no new information on the state of conservation of the property.

The World Heritage Centre received satellite data from third parties, which indicate that commercial fisheries have resumed within the property.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2024

In the absence of a report on the state of conservation of the property or a response to the aforementioned letter from the World Heritage Centre, transmitted on 19 November 2021, the current situation at the property cannot be adequately evaluated. In this regard, it is further regrettable that no action has been taken by the State Party to invite the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission requested by the Committee at its extended 45th session (Riyadh, 2023), which could provide clarifications and guidance to the State Party to ensure the continued protection of the OUV whilst contributing to sustainable development and wellbeing of people. 

At the time of inscription of the property in 2010, the State Party made commitments to expand the no-take zone to ensure the integrity of the property (Decision 34 COM 8B.2). In 2015, the Committee highly commended the State Party for its landmark decision to fully close the entire area of the property from commercial fishing.

Nevertheless, in 2021, the State Party replaced the full no-take zone with a MSP Programme that intended to strike a balance between natural resource use to benefit the Kiribati people’s livelihoods and the protection of the property’s OUV, given the significant loss of revenue due to the closure of commercial fisheries in the property. Satellite data indicates that commercial fishing activity has resumed in the property since, at least, March 2023. It is of serious concern that the State Party has not provided any details regarding the reopening of the property to commercial fisheries, including details requested in the letter sent to the State Party on whether an assessment of possible impacts on the OUV of the property has been undertaken, and if so, details of the assessment; mapping of the changes in protection, including which no-take zones will remain; and the measures foreseen to enforce sustainable fishing practices outside the no-take zones under the envisaged MSP Programme.

It is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterates its request to the State Party to invite the requested joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property as a matter of priority, with a view to assessing the state of conservation of the property, provide recommendations for a MSP that ensures the protection of the property’s OUV while securing sustainable livelihoods, and evaluate if the property meets the conditions for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2024
Draft Decision: 46 COM 7B.66

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/24/46.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 34 COM 8B.2, 39 COM 7B.14 and 45COM 7B.17 adopted at its 34th (Brasília, 2010), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and extended 45th (Riyadh, 2023) sessions respectively,
  3. Regrets that the State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee;
  4. Reiterates its deep regret that the State Party decided to lift the 2015 landmark closure of the property for commercial fisheries, and that the reversed fishing license designed to compensate foregone fishing revenue appears not to have sufficiently benefited the livelihoods of the people of Kiribati to ensure its sustainability;
  5. Recalling the importance to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of this property of maintaining sufficiently large no-take zones, reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that any management decision related to the property, such as removing the protection status of the no-take zone and allowing commercial fishing operations, is science-based and ensures the protection of the OUV of the property;
  6. Reiterates serious concern about the lack of details and clarity concerning the envisaged Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Programme and other measures being developed by the State Party to replace the no-take zone, requests again the State Party to provide the following as soon as possible to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN:
    1. The assessments, which were undertaken to forecast any impact on the OUV of the property as a result of the reported decision,
    2. Maps indicating changes in protection under the envisaged MSP, including areas which will remain as no-take zones,
    3. The measures it is taking and foreseen to monitor, survey and enforce sustainable best fishing practices within and outside of the no-take zones under the envisaged MSP;
  7. Recalling its utmost concern that opening up the property to commercial fisheries has resulted in a significant weakening of the protection status of the property and reiterates that in case no urgent action is taken to ensure the effective protection of the OUV, the property might meet the conditions for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to review its state of conservation, assess the status and implications of any decision to change the no-take regime within the property, assess if the property might meet the conditions for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger and make recommendations on options to ensure that the property’s OUV is safeguarded, whilst ensuring the sustainable use of the property’s marine resources in such a way that serves the needs of the people of Kiribati;
  9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2025, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 47th session, considering that the urgent conservation needs of this property require a broad mobilization to preserve its OUV, including the possible inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2024
Kiribati
Date of Inscription: 2010
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 46COM (2024)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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