Sponsor an Ocean
News Shorts
Posted: September 20, 2023
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    A humpback whale swims off the coast of Niue. (Richard Sidey/Galaxiid via AP)
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    Niue’s waters are home to abundant ocean life. (Richard Sidey/Galaxiid via AP)
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What could you buy with $148? How about a big square of blue ocean?

Niue is a tiny island nation. It sits in the South Pacific, north of New Zealand. Its territory contains a vast amount of ocean. But those waters need protection. For that, Niue’s leaders have a creative idea.

Who wants to sponsor an ocean?

Niue officials are selling 127,000 squares of ocean. Each one contains about 250 acres. For $148, you can “buy” one of those units. You don’t really own the water. But the money helps protect that square. Niue’s leaders hope to raise $18 million.

Why does the water need protection? Niue’s people depend on it. Many make a living by fishing.

“Niue is just one island in the middle of the big blue ocean,” says Niue’s leader, Dalton Tagelagi. “We are surrounded by the ocean, and we live off the ocean.”

But overfishing threatens that livelihood. So does pollution. Fish eat plastic. They get tangled up in garbage.

Only 1,700 people live on the island. That makes Niue one of the world’s smallest countries. Its ocean territory is 1,200 times larger than its land. Niue can’t protect all that ocean on its own.

The sponsorable squares make up nearly half of Niue’s waters. The area is a no-take marine protected area. Nobody can fish there. It’s a safe spot for fish to flourish. This helps keep the waters stocked for future generations of Niue fishermen.

Niue’s government bought 1,700 ocean squares. That’s one for each of its citizens. The rest went up for sale.

Often, you can solve big problems by breaking them into smaller parts. Niue’s plan creates space for other people to help. It’s hard for one tiny government to come up with millions of dollars. But thousands of ocean lovers could give $148 each.

“It’s a good idea,” says marine science professor Simon Thrush. “I’d be up for it.”

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. — Philippians 2:4