The Ramsar Secretariat is delighted to welcome Kiribati to the Ramsar family as its 166th Contracting Party. UNESCO has confirmed that the instrument of accession and the name and map of one Wetlands of International Importance (No’oto – North Tarawa) was received on 3 April 2013, so the Convention, as amended in 1982 and 1987, will come into force for Kiribati on 3 August of this year. The Ramsar Information Sheet for the new site has been prepared by the government and here is a description of this important wetland:
The 1,033-hectare No’oto-North Tarawa wetland contains a range of relatively pristine and healthy coastal ecosystems which are significant and representative for the biogeographic region. These include lagoons, coral reefs, intertidal mudflats and mangroves that support a high biodiversity and are rich in resources – including a wide variety of finfish, turtles, crustaceans, seaweed and other plants.
The site is a also important breeding area for marine species of conservation importance such as the endangered Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) which nests and forages at the site and the vulnerable giant clam (Tridacna gigas). The site is one of the few areas in Kiribati where mangroves occur, with four species dominant: Rhizophora mucronata, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, Lumnitzera racemosa and Sonneratia alba.
Human activities at the site consist of small-scale agricultural gardens, domesticated livestock breeding (pigs and chickens), small-scale coconut plantations, fishing and reef gleaning for both commercial and subsistence.
The conservation ethic of the local people remains strong in the site, with the local community using traditional methods to manage their marine resources on a sustainable basis. Their management is based on an extensive knowledge of fish, fishing technology, and the sea.