We’ve all heard of the Great Barrier Reef but did you know New Caledonia is home to the second largest reef in the world? The French Pacific territory recently made a call to Australia in hopes of tapping into the country’s research and expertise to maintain the reef, which rings its main island.
“Australia has long-standing experience in the management of the coral reef,” New Caledonia High Commissioner Yves Dassonville said to reporters in Canberra during a visit. “We would like to seize the opportunity of your experience and exchange scientific information on research projects with regard to those two reefs, which are the largest in the world and which are essentially facing each other across the sea.”
Dassonville also said New Caledonia hoped to set up joint management of the Australian and French economic zones which extend across the Pacific from the huge reefs on either side. The initiatives are part of a new push for New Caledonia to integrate more closely with its neighbours, including moves for full membership of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), ahead of an independence referendum.
“It would be useful to establish a joint sustainable and agreed management approach for those two exclusive economic areas beyond the coral reefs,” he said.
New Caledonia is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,200 kilometers (746 mi) east of Australia and 1,500 kilometers (932 mi) northwest of New Zealand. The island nation of Vanuatu lies to the northeast. New Caledonia, a former penal colony which was annexed by France in 1853, is increasingly moving towards independence with the referendum on self-rule due between 2014 and 2018.