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The Southwest Pacific is a marvel of vast ocean space, rich marine life and thousands of islands that are home to diverse cultures. WWF works to support Pacific Island people to conserve their natural heritage for present and future generations.

© / WWF

School of bigeye trevally, Fiji. rel= © Cat HOLLOWAY / WWF

In the southwestern corner of the Pacific lie the islands of Melanesia, which include New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Great Sea Reef of Fiji, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, as well as the iconic seascape of the Great Barrier Reef.
The marine environment of the Southwest Pacific is considered one of the most biologically diverse in the world. It is home to 6 of the 7 seven species of marine turtle, whales, sharks and a wide array of fish species, including the endangered humphead wrasse.

The region's islands are also known for their coral reefs, coastal mangrove forests and vast stretches of open water.

Protecting the Pacific

But not all is perfect in paradise. The region is threatened by unsustainable tourism, overfishing and climate change.

Many islanders rely on fisheries as a source of food and income from coral reef and mangrove habitats that are threatened by warming ocean temperatures and sea level rise.

Through its Pacific programme, WWF works to raise awareness and increase resilience to the adverse impacts of climate changes as well as focus its efforts on natural resource management and marine conservation throughout the region.

Fiji is famous throughout the world for spectacularly rich and vibrant soft coral reefs, which ... 
© WWF / Cat Holloway
Fiji and other Pacific nations are famous for their spectacularly rich and vibrant coral reefs, which provide havens and food sources for thousands of species of fish and invertebrates.
© WWF / Cat Holloway

Fiji's marine protected areas

With support from WWF, Fiji is leading the pack of Pacific coastal nations in protecting its marine environment.

Naduri village youths with the buoy that marks the boundary of the new marine protected area. © WWF
By committing to the establishment of a network of marine protected areas over 30%, or 39 million hectares, of its territorial waters by 2020, it will be the largest system of underwater sanctuaries in the world.

Prohibited fishing zones have been set aside within Fiji’s Great Sea Reef, the third largest barrier reef in the world, to conserve the most diverse amount of species and habitats as possible.

Hawksbill turtle populations in the Caribbean are on the decline.

© WWF / Cat Holloway

Humphead (or Napoleon, or Maori ) wrasse.

© WWF / Darren Jew

Where is the Southwest Pacific region?
The Southwest Pacific region is highlighted in green.

View WWF Critical Regions of the World in a larger map

Facts & Figures

  • The Pacific region is home to 30,000 islands, which are part of 22 nations spread over 30 million square miles of ocean.
  • Fiji is home to the Great Sea Reef, the third longest barrier reef in the world; about 80% of the population lives on the coast.
  • While The Cook Islands cover only about 240km2 of land, its territorial waters cover nearly 2 million square kilometres.
  • The most extensive mangroves in the world are found in New Guinea.
  • Pacific Island nations account for emitting less than 1% of climate changing gases but are among the most vulnerable to the potential adverse impacts of climate change and sea-level rise.