The Case for Marine Protected Areas
When you think about the ocean and you think of how important it is to life on this planet, it’s amazing that in 2014, only two percent of the ocean was protected in any way at all. That means 98 percent of the ocean was open to fishing, mining, drilling and when you have that kind of pressure on something so vital to the planet, it’s just not sustainable. In September of 2015, the nations of the world got together and agreed upon the Sustainable Development Goals. And for the first time in history, they decided to make the ocean one of those priorities. There’s a specific goal to protect ten percent of the ocean by the year 2020. We need the ocean. We need the ocean to be healthy, we need to protect parts of it, so that we can have a more resilient, healthy planet. The study builds upon and uses some of the best research that’s out there. We took ten maps that have been created by UN Agencies, by conservation organizations and what we did was pull it all together. We overlaid these maps on top of one another to find out what areas is there general agreement that these are important areas to protect. If marine protected areas are put in the right places, and if they’re strongly protected, and if they’re effectively managed, then great benefits have been seen. What the study shows is that there’s enough area within the jurisdiction of coastal states, that if they were to take those areas and make the high priority areas protected, that would do it. That would actually make us reach the goal of 10 percent by the year 2020. I really think that increasing the amount of marine protected areas is the most important thing that we can do to save the planet. There are many benefits: bigger fish, more biodiversity, better economics. Marine protected areas, in many cases, also help sequester carbon. So it can help mitigate the effects of climate change. There are so many proven benefits and we really need a lot more of them than we have now. We’re collaborating with scientists from all around the globe. Not just scientists, but also conservationists and diplomats governments. We, you know, this is not a problem that’s going to be easily solved and it has to involve cooperation of lots and lots of people.