Environmental Survey Planned For Kiribati’s Phoenix Islands

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Protected area spans over 400,000 square kilometers

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 20, 2013) – Twelve experts will join a group that set out last week to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) to study the effects of climate change on coral ecosystems and other developments.

Education and information officer Betarim Rimon has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the team will travel on Monday by patrol boat to Canton, the only inhabited island in the Phoenix group.

"They'll be doing surveys on biodiversity... on the old infrastructure that exists on the island - they need to ascertain on how to revive them," he said.

"They will be going round all the eight islands. At the end of the round, they will stay on Canton to do the major surveys for ten days."

PIPA spans more than 400,000 square kilometers, and contains about 200 species of coral and 500 species of fish.

As well as conservation, Mr. Kimon says the government is interested in tapping into PIPA's tourism potential.

"That is the plan of our government, to open up the island in terms of the airport so we can have regular flights," he said.

"We've been receiving a lot of visitors mainly from the Cook Islands, from New Zealand, from Samoa. They all come through that way - I think it’s closer to them. What we've been doing is charging very little, like a permit for tourists coming in."

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