Quantcast

Visionary Study Shows How 30% of World's Oceans Could Be Made Sanctuaries by 2030

Popular
Ghost fishing nets in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Justin Hofman / Greenpeace

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.

Greenpeace

Projected protection zones in world's oceans by 2030.

Greenpeace

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Waterloo Bridge during the Extinction Rebellion protest in London. Martin Hearn / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Money talks. And today it had something to say about the impending global climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Sam Cooper

By Sam Cooper

Thomas Edison once said, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!"

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
A NOAA research vessel at a Taylor Energy production site in the Gulf of Mexico in September 2018. NOAA

The federal government is looking into the details from the longest running oil spill in U.S. history, and it's looking far worse than the oil rig owner let on, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Damage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from the 2016 occupation. USFWS

By Tara Lohan

When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.

Read More Show Less
Computer model projection of temperature anomalies across Europe on June 27. Temperature scale in °C. Tropicaltidbits.com

A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.

Read More Show Less
Skull morphology of hybrid "narluga" whale. Nature / Mikkel Høegh Post

In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.

Read More Show Less