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World Parks Congress: Ali Bongo Ondimba announces creation of a network of marine parks
At the World Parks Congress, the decennial meeting of environmental policy decision-makers, the Gabonese head of state, patron of the Congress, shared his decision for Gabon to create a network of marine parks in which no commercial fishing will be authorized.

The sustainable management of ocean territory, the sanctuary of Gabon Bleu, deserves as much attention as the vast green forests. Addressing the hundreds of top political and scientific leaders gathered in the Australian economic capital, Ali Bongo Ondimba announced the marine park boundaries, which will make the territorial waters and the EEZ go from 1% to 23% of the protected ocean territory. This is a decision that meets recommendations from marine biologists in order to maintain biodiversity. “Within this network,” emphasized the congress’s distinguished visitor, “no commercial fishing will be authorized. This includes an extension of 27,000 square kilometers of Mayumba National Park, extending to the limits of our exclusive economic zone.”

A delicate balance needs to be found. “The rest of the exclusive economic zone,” the President of the Republic continued, “will be divided into community and commercial fishing areas and petrol exclusion areas where industrial fishing will not be authorized near strategic economic infrastructures. We have already taken measures to eliminate illegal fishing in our territorial waters. We are currently planning to extend these actions within the limits of our exclusive economic zone.”

In the presence of the large conservation and development decision-makers gathered for the opening of the international conference, the President of the Republic specified again that the objective was “to manage representative portions of all distinct land units in Gabon in order to protect all the wild species which whose conservation is important.” Therefore, the thirteen existing parks will be joined by six “Ramsar” sites (the convention on internationally significant wetlands), bringing the total coverage of protected areas to 21% of Gabonese territory. 
The climate plan, the fight against poaching, the creation of a department in charge of sustainable development in each ministerial department, the implementation of a national land assignment plan, the launch of Gabon Bleu, the initiative to protect the elephant and, very recently, the “Climate Initiative of the South” planned for March 2015 all bear witness to a very high-level commitment from the state. 
Finally, Ali Bongo Ondimba recalled the urgency required to “support women and men who dedicate their lives to protecting our parks” in order to reach international objectives in the protection of biodiversity and to “preserve the entire planet.”
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