Pitcairn Island Environment and Conservation
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The worlds largest marine reserve

Pitcairn Island


For the past year our community has been working with Global Ocean Legacy (GOL), a project of the Pew Environment Group, an international not for profit conservation organisation, in exploring the possibilities of establishing the world largest marine reserve in Pitcairn waters. The aim of GOL is to contribute to the conservation of the world’s oceans by working with local communities and governments to establish a network of very large, highly protected marine reserves.

Check out GOL's website here: www.globaloceanlegacy.org

Pitcairn Island fish
Lemonpeel Angelfish
(Centropyge flavissima)
Pitcairn Island giant coral head
This giant coral probably was already alive when Pedro Fernandez de Quirós “discovered” Henderson in 1606.
Pitcairn Island
Photo's by Enric Sala, National Geographic

Most countries in the world have claimed something called an “Exclusive Economic Zone”, or EEZ, which extends 200 nautical miles from their shoreline and enables them to control any economic activity, like commercial fishing that happens within that area. Because Pitcairn is an island group of four islands spread far apart from each other, its EEZ is huge, covering over 836,000 sq km. That’s bigger than New Zealand. Pitcairn’s EEZ has;

  • 1,126 marine species, including seabirds
  • 352 species of fish
  • 48 marine species that are critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near-threatened
  • 21 species of dolphin and whale
  • 11 marine species found nowhere else on earth

GOL’s interest in exploring the possibilities of preserving this vast seascape is due to Pitcairn’s waters being some of the most healthy and unique in the world.

Pitcairn Island, Heather Bradner
Heather Bradner
Manager, Global Ocean Legacy, Pew Environment Group

Since March 2011 the focus has been on developing two key reports: one on the marine biology of the Pitcairn islands and a second on the potential costs and benefits to Pitcairn should a marine reserve be established. Both documents, the 2nd in draft form, have been presented to the Pitcairn Island Council and further discussion has been scheduled for August 2012, this year.

Pitcairn Island, shark
With up to 90 percent live coral cover, the reefs of Ducie Atoll are some of the last tropical marine paradises, memories of what the ocean was like before extensive human impacts.
Pitcairn Island coral fish
Blackside Hawkfish
(Paracirrhites forsteri)
The heritage and continuum between marine and terrestrial life is called to mind by the frog-like eyes popping up above the head of this tiny denizen of the coral.
Photo's by Enric Sala, National Geographic


Island or atoll Type Land Area (km2) Total Area (km2) Resident Pop. April 2013 Coordinates
Ducie Island Atoll 0.7 3.9* - 24°40′09″S 124°47′11″W
Henderson Island Uplifted coral island 37.3 37.3 - 24°22′01″S 128°18′57″W
Oeno Island Atoll 0.65 16.65* - 23°55′26″S 130°44′03″W
Pitcairn Island Volcanic island 4.6 4.6 48 25°04′00″S 130°06′00″W
All Islands - 43.25 62.45 48 23°55′26″ to 25°04′00″S, 124°47′11″ to 130°44′03″W

* Includes reef flat and lagoon of the atolls.