France is the only country in the world with coral reefs in all three oceans of the world.

Its reefs and lagoons cover 57 557 km2 (source: Andréfouët et al, 2008; Atlas reefs France overseas, IRD).


8 French communities overseas are home to nearly 10% of coral reefs and 20% of coral atolls in the world.

Thanks in large part to the presence of reefs, France has the second-largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world with over 11 million km2 communities overseas account for over 90% of the national maritime space.

The French communities overseas surrounded by coral reefs are distributed as follows:

  • Pacific Ocean: New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Clipperton;
  • Indian Ocean: Reunion, Mayotte and the Scattered islands;
  • Atlantic Ocean: Martinique, Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante, Les Saintes, Désirade, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin.


These communities have a strong geographical diversity: land masses may extend for 2 km ² Clipperton 18 000 km ² for Polynesia. Types of islands and reefs are also very different: continental islands with barrier reefs, fringing reefs surrounded by high, atoll islands

Coral Reefs in France - Les coraux en France - Coral Guardian

France, a unique reef in the world heritage

France is the only country in the world with coral reefs in three oceans.

These various contexts give them an exceptional diversity. Our country is home to 10% of the world’s coral reefs (4th rank – 55,000 km2), located in eight communities overseas tropical whose local economy is heavily dependent on this ecosystem: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis

and Futuna and the scattered islands of the Indian Ocean. 95% of French coral reefs are located in the Pacific Ocean (French Polynesia and New Caledonia).


The coral reefs of New Caledonia were classified as World Heritage Site in 1998. For France, this is a global recognition of the originality and importance of its reefs are 16,000 km2 of protected about 40,000 km2 in existing French overseas coral reef ecosystem.


This exceptional situation gives France a special responsibility to safeguard coral reefs.
Globally, France is a founding member of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). The governments of the United States, Australia, France, Jamaica, Japan, the Philippines, Sweden and the United Kingdom, with agencies such as the World Bank and UNEP, recognized the growing problems of coral reefs. They launched the ICRI in 1994 at the conference on small island developing States. This commitment has resulted in the creation in France in 1999, the French Initiative for Coral Reefs (Ifrecor) National action taken on the decision of the Prime Minister. The initiative covers all actions and measures for the reefs.


The issues are the protection and sustainable management of coral reef communities overseas territories.’s National action plan for coral reefs, founder IFRECOR text, adopted in 2000, focuses on six axes strategic:


  • Planning;
  • Reducing the negative effects of human activities and sustainable development;
  • The development of research, monitoring and tools for decision support;
  • Information, training and education;
  • The development of means of regulatory and financial work;
  • The development of regional cooperation.

The last meeting of the National Committee IFRECOR was held in 2010 in Reunion. It was an opportunity to adopt the third action plan (2011-2014) Initiative, which was given the following objectives:


  • Encouraging the development of a network of Marine Protected Areas;
  • Increase scientific knowledge on coral reefs of the French overseas communities;
  • Assess the socio-economic value of coral reef communities in French overseas;
  • Raise awareness of the issues of conservation of coral reefs and associated ecosystems;
  • Contribute to the observation of the effect of climate change.
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