Micronesian Islands

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Micronesia is vast, covering an area greater in size than the continental United States. The region contains thousands of small, sparsely populated atolls and high islands stretching from the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, across the Federated States of Micronesia and Nauru to Palau, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Beneath the ocean’s surface are some of the world's most highly diverse and intact coral reefs, as well as an enormous biomass of pelagic fish. Features include island-arc spreading centers complete with active volcanoes and the deepest known abyss in the ocean, the Marianas Trench. The unique cultures are closely tied to the oceans, where traditional navigation in sailing canoes is still practiced and sustainable fishing practices date back thousands of years.

Because of the wide expanse of open ocean and limited funding for surveillance, the resources of these island nations are subject to extensive uncontrolled exploitation by roaming fishing fleets, seeking everything from tuna and live grouper to giant clams and sea cucumbers. On any given day, foreign poachers can outnumber local islanders 5:1.

Many of these islands are presently no more than a couple of meters above sea level, and are threatened by extreme storms and sea level rise. Their future depends on local actions that address resource sustainability as well as global efforts to address climate change.

Learn more about the broader region: North and South Pacific