The time has come to protect the oceans-global issues

  • View by Enrique Sara (Washington DC)
  • International news agency

It also has rays, sea turtles, whales and dolphins, and is one of the most biologically diverse waterways in the world. However, in recent years, industrial fishing activities have encroached on the area, threatening this unparalleled marine life.

Fortunately, Costa Rica took decisive action this month to expand the protected waters by 27 times. They also protected an additional marine area, the Bicentennial Marine Management Area, which is twice the size of the expanded Cocos Island National Park. The area does not include fishing areas, and fishing activities will be closely monitored.


Stories like this are too rare. In the last century alone, we have eliminated more than 90% of the ocean’s large fish, but less than 8% of the ocean has been protected in some way. We are still understanding that the collateral damage of destructive fishing activities, such as bottom trawling, will scrape the ocean floor-the world’s largest carbon pool.

It is clear that commercial fishing, global warming and pollution have destroyed the oceans. Several corners of the vast ocean are safe. As a result, the ocean is losing its ability to protect biodiversity, provide food, and store carbon-all of which are vital to maintaining a habitable planet, which was discussed vigorously in the climate negotiations held in Glasgow at the end of last year.


But it is possible to restore the benefits of the ocean to mankind and the planet. All we have to do is to rewild the sea. The only problem is that we can’t wait. We have less than ten years to take action.

Since 2018, I have been working around the world with a team of scientists to determine which ocean areas we must protect first. Through our research and countless expeditions, we have discovered a trade-off between ocean benefits.

To support our work, we have developed a framework that can help us maximize the benefits that humans get from the ocean. We found that if we are to pay equal attention to biodiversity, food, and carbon, we must protect 45% of the ocean — 45% of the “right”.


Even if we think that biodiversity is not that important, we still need to protect 30%-the smallest area required to protect marine life and all the benefits it provides to humans. Costa Rica is one of a growing number of world leaders who understand the benefits of protecting marine areas. In the Glasgow climate negotiations, Costa Rica joined Colombia, Ecuador and Panama in announcing a commitment to establish more marine protected areas in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Establishing no-catch areas for migratory species such as tuna along the “ocean highway” will actually increase the fish supply in the surrounding areas. As a result, biodiversity and the economy benefit.

Early this month, The Portuguese government expanded the marine protected area around the Selvagens Islands, located between Madeira and the Canary Islands. With an area of ​​3,677 square kilometers, this area is the largest fully protected marine protected area in Europe.


If we are to ensure that the oceans continue to provide us with benefits, countries around the world must establish more such protected areas by 2030. Protection measures must be strong. Marine protected areas can only perform their magic when all fishing and other destructive human activities are prohibited-and these rules are enforced.

So far, 77 countries have agreed to support the global goal of protecting 30% of the oceans and land by 2030. They are working hard to ensure that the 30×30 target is included in the global UN Biodiversity Agreement, which is currently under negotiation and is expected to be signed in 2022.

However, the world does not have to wait for the ink of an agreement to establish more marine protected areas to dry out. The risk is too great. I have witnessed the natural restoration of marine reserves. More importantly, I have seen how this natural return can help people get a better life.

Enrique Sara He is the resident explorer of the National Geographic Society, the founder of the pristine ocean, and won this year’s Prince Albert I Award for his work in protecting the ocean. Pristine Seas helped establish 24 marine protected areas with a total area of ​​more than 6.5 million square kilometers, more than twice the size of India.


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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: International News Service

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