Phoenix Islands Protected Area

With a size of 408,250 km2 (157,626 sq. miles) it is one of the largest marine protected areas in the world and the largest marine conservation effort of its kind by a Least Developed Country (LDC).

Kiribati first declared the creation of PIPA at the 2006 Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil. On January 30, 2008, Kiribati adopted formal regulations for PIPA that more than doubled the original size to make it at that time the largest marine protected area on Earth. In 2010 PIPA was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is the largest and deepest World Heritage site on Earth.

PIPA includes all eight atoll and low reef islands of the Kiribati section of the Phoenix Island group, Rawaki, Enderbury, Nikumaroro, McKean, Manra, Birnie, Kanton and Orona. PIPA also includes two submerged reefs, Carondelet Reef and Winslow Reef, with Carondelet Reef being as little as 3 to 4 meters underwater at low tide. It is estimated that there could be more than 30 seamounts within PIPA though to date only nine have been named. The greater part of PIPA by area is comprised of ocean floor with a water column averaging more than 4,000 meters (2.5 miles) deep with a maximum at 6,147 meters.


PIPA has enjoyed extensive media coverage from a wide variety of sources. Here are links to some of the articles:

Science Magazine March 2016 Ending Hide and Seek at Sea

National Geographic Jan 2011 "Phoenix Rising"

New England Aquarium Winter 2010 Blue Magazine Featuring PIPA

Science News Feb 2009 "The presidents of two island nations draft escape plans, anticipating sea level rise"

Cosmos Magazine June 2008 "World's Largest Marine Park: Size of California"

Smithsonian Magazine Sept 2008 "Our Imperiled Oceans: Victory at Sea"

Harvard Gazette Sept 2008 "Island Nation President Plans for Extinction"

ABC News Oct 2008 "Conservation Talks Highlight Need to Protect Island Environments"

Living on Earth Oct 2008 feature on the Phoenix Islands Protected Area

ABC News April 2007 "Kiribati's President: 'Our Lives Are At Stake'

National Geographic Feb 2004 "Phoenix Islands"

PIPA: Quick Facts

  • The Phoenix Islands reefs are what a reef might have looked like a thousand years ago.
  • These islands and surrounding waters cover 408,250 km2 and represent one of Earth's last intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems.
  • PIPA also protects important seabird nesting grounds, along with rare traditional plants that have cultural and medicinal values in Kiribati but are now threatened on more populated islands.