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Rio +20: Maldives announces world's biggest marine reserve

The entire country is to become a protected area within the next five years, according to President Mohamed Waheed.

Maldives marine reserve 2011 06 20Enlarge
Kurumba island, just one of the Maldives 1,192 islands that will become a marine reserve within the next five years. (SANKA VIDANAGAMA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Maldives has used the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil to announce that all 1,192 of its islands will become a marine reserve by 2017.

AFP quotes the President Mohamed Waheed as saying: "I would like to announce today Maldives will become the first country to become a marine reserve."

"It will become the single largest marine reserve in the world. This policy will allow only sustainable and eco-friendly fishing. It will exclude deep-sea, purse-seining and other destructive techniques," he said.

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Pure-seining, Sky News explains, refers to a fishing technique in which a seine in the shape of a bag is used to ensnare fish and other catch.

PR Newswire says its hoped the creation of the marine reserve will attract international investment in pilot schemes "to explore new approaches to conservation and sustainability."

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It explains that parts of the Maldives are already UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, including the 75 islands of the Baa Atoll.

"Already, Maldives is a sanctuary for sharks, turtles and many species of fish in the Indian Ocean. Trade in these products is now illegal in the Maldives," Waheed also said, according to Environmental Expert.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120620/rio-20-maldives-announces-worlds-biggest-marine-reserve