USA names Pacific marine area for Ramsar List

The RAMSAR Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the United States has named the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (204,127 hectares, 05⁰52’N 162⁰06’W) as its 30th Ramsar Site, comprising coral reefs, permanent shallow marine waters, and intertidal forested wetlands of the atoll and submerged lands and associated waters out to 12 nautical miles from it, in the equatorial Pacific 960 miles south of Honolulu, Hawaii. A National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) since 2001, the site supports a variety of species with different conservation status under the National Endangered Species Act and IUCN Red List, such as the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi), Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), and Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas). It is also an important feeding and nesting ground for seabirds like the Red-footed Booby (Sula sula), with the third largest colony in the world, and it sustains approximately 5% of the total population of the Bristle-thighed Curlew (Numenius tahitiensis).

As a National Wildlife Refuge, the site is closed to public use without a permit issued by the manager, but scientific research and CEPA activities are coordinated between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy along with the Palmyra Atoll Research Consortium. Threats include the presence of invasive species like the scale (Pulvinaria urbicola), which is responsible for the recent decline in the Pisonia grandis forest coverage. A conservation plan is under development and expected to be completed in 2012.

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