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Decision 45 COM 7B.17
Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati) (N 1325)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 34 COM 8B.2 and 39 COM 7B.14 adopted at its 34th (Brasília, 2010) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) 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 Centre;
  4. Expresses 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. Also recalling the importance to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of this property of maintaining sufficiently large no-take zones, requests 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. Expresses 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, including details on the financial resources and technical arrangements that will ensure the ongoing protection of the property’s OUV, and that commercial fishing activity within the property has already resumed, and therefore urgently requests the State Party to provide the following 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. Calls upon the international community to refrain from any unsustainable fishing practices that could negatively impact on the OUV of the property and to assist the State Party with the necessary financial and technical support to assess the implications of removing the no-take protection status;
  8. Expresses 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 considers 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;
  9. Further requests 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;
  10. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2024, 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 46th 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.c
Documents
Context of Decision
WHC-23/45.COM/7B