Mexico City, Mexico — Mexico’s president Enrique Pena Nieto has signed a decree that ensures all 57,000 square miles of the Revillagigedo Archipelago is a natural marine reserve. The area, which is about 250 miles (400km) south-east of the country’s Baja California peninsula, has been described as the Galapagos of North America because of its volcanic nature and unique ecology.
The signing of the decree means all fishing activity is banned and that the entire area will be patrolled by the Mexican Navy. It is hoped that the move will allow species populations to recover. The new status also means the extraction of natural resources is forbidden, including land, building and new hotel infrastructures.
The Revillagigedo Archipelago is a group of volcanic islands off the country’s south-west coast.
With a protection zone of 57,000 square miles (150,000km), it has become the largest ocean reserve in North America. The islands are home to hundreds of species including sea turtles, whales and rays.
María José Villanueva, the director of conservation of WWF in Mexico, described the move as an “important precedent” to the rest of the world.
Last year the Pacific Ocean site was named as a UNESCO world heritage area.