Children of the sea

The children are on alert: one of them has just spotted Julien, the new military man, fishing on the quay of Ua Pou, a Marquesan island. Immediately, the gang rushes. One, two, six, eight kids come and stand behind the accused French metropolitan. “It’s forbidden to fish here, this is our educational marine area!”

The Marquesas invented this concept in 2013 during a scientific census for the UNESCO World Heritage listing. A researcher asked the children if they had any ideas on how to protect their environment and one of them suggested that they could manage their own piece of ocean. Bingo. Management comities, action plans, ecological status, restoration plans etc. the children took their responsibilities to heart.

Soon the model was exported throughout Polynesia and then to metropolitan France. The numbers are getting out of hand. 6, 20, 50… 210 EMAs have been created, reaching more than 20,000 students since 2016.

And Polynesia is thinking big. The territory has just filed a joint trademark application with the French government to go international. At a time when marine areas are becoming an international issue with the commitments of SDO 14, French EMAs are becoming a showcase for French leadership on the seas.


Cécile Bontron journaliste

Laurent Weyl photo-journaliste