Visionary Study Shows How 30% of World's Oceans Could Be Made Sanctuaries by 2030
By Julia Conley
The climate action group Greenpeace released a report Thursday which lays out a plan for how world leaders can protect more than 30 percent of the world's oceans in the next decade — as world governments meet at United Nations to create a historic Global Oceans Treaty aimed at strictly regulating activities which have damaged marine life.
In the report — 30x30: A Blueprint for Ocean Protection — researchers from the Universities of York and Oxford divided the world's oceans into 25,000 62-square mile sections, mapping out a network of "ocean sanctuaries" which could be created to help recover lost biodiversity.
"The findings in this report show that it is entirely feasible to design an ecologically representative, planet-wide network of high seas protected areas to address the crisis facing our oceans and enable their recovery," reads the report. "The need is immediate and the means readily available. All that is required is the political will."
The sanctuaries, which Greenpeace says could be established by 2030, would protect species from the damages of overfishing, fossil fuel drilling projects and pollution.
"The '30x30' report puts forward a credible design for a global network of marine protected areas in the high seas based on knowledge accumulated over years by marine ecologists on the distribution of species, including those threatened with extinction, habitats known to be hotspots of biodiversity and unique ecosystems," said Alex Rogers, a professor at Oxford who co-authored the report.
Greenpeace published an interactive map as a companion to the study, showing how little ocean life is currently protected compared with the wide swaths of ocean that could be protected with its proposed network of protected areas.
Current protected area of world's oceans.
Projected protection zones in world's oceans by 2030.
This is big: our report shows we can protect a THIRD of our global oceans over the next decade... This will help:… https://t.co/WFALG9Kpbc— Greenpeace UK (@Greenpeace UK)1554371213.0
Oceans cover 70 percent of the planet's living space and include 89 million square miles which are completely unprotected because they lie outside of national borders — currently, just two percent of the world's oceans are protected. Greenpeace's plan to establish conservation zones in 30 to 50 percent of the oceans would help ocean ecosystems recover from decades of worsening plastic pollution, overfishing, fossil fuel drilling and acidification brought on by increased carbon in the world's atmosphere.
"The speed at which the high seas have been depleted of some of their most spectacular and iconic wildlife has taken the world by surprise," said Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York. "Extraordinary losses of seabirds, turtles, sharks, and marine mammals reveal a broken governance system that governments at the United Nations must urgently fix."
The study took into account the socio-economic impact the sanctuaries would have on global fishing industries, showing that "networks representative of biodiversity can be built with limited economic impact."
As delegations gathered in New York to discuss a treaty aimed at protecting oceans, Greenpeace urged world leaders to consider the groundbreaking 30x30 study as a guide for how to ensure a healthy future for marine life as well as the entire planet.
"The negotiations taking place here at the UN are crucial because, if they get it right, governments around the world could secure a Global Ocean Treaty by 2020 which has the teeth to realize a network of ocean sanctuaries, off-limits from harmful human activities," said Dr. Sandra Schoettner of Greenpeace. "This would give wildlife and habitats space not only to recover, but to flourish. Our oceans are in crisis, but all we need is the political will to protect them before it's too late."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>