New scientific study maps out how to protect a third of the world’s oceans by 2030

New scientific study maps out how to protect a third of the world’s oceans by 2030

April 9, 2019
Press Release: Greenpeace

Governments are negotiating toward a Global Ocean Treaty at the UN that could pave the way for a network of ocean sanctuaries

As governments meet at the United Nations to negotiate towards an historic Global Ocean Treaty, a groundbreaking study conducted by leading marine biologists has mapped out how to protect more than a third of the world’s oceans by 2030 – a target that scientists say is crucial in order to safeguard wildlife and to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The report, 30×30: A Blueprint For Ocean Protection, is the result of a year-long collaboration between leading academics at the University of York, University of Oxford and Greenpeace. In one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind, researchers broke down the global oceans – which cover almost half the planet – into 25,000 squares of 100×100km. They then mapped the distribution of 458 different conservation features, including wildlife, habitats and key oceanographic features, generating hundreds of scenarios for what a planet-wide network of ocean sanctuaries, free from harmful human activity, could look like.

“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,” commented Professor Callum Roberts, 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. This report shows how protected areas could be rolled out across international waters to create a net of protection that will help save species from extinction and help them survive in our fast-changing world.”

Negotiations at the UN towards a Global Ocean Treaty could pave the way for the protection of oceans outside of national borders, that cover 230 million square kilometres. This research explores what it would mean to fully protect 30-50% of the global oceans, both widely discussed ambitions for conservation targets. Various scenarios for protection, as well as wildlife hotspots and threats to the ocean, can be explored using this interactive map.

“Over the next 18 months, governments around the world have a unique opportunity to establish a global framework for protecting the oceans,” commented Louisa Casson, Greenpeace UK campaigner. “Working together, they can facilitate the protection of 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, via a network of fully protected ocean sanctuaries. UK ministers such as Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt need to take the lead and personally engage with their counterparts to encourage international collaboration and high ambition to protect the oceans for future generations.”

“What’s so exciting about this research is that it shows that it is entirely possible to design and create a robust, planet-wide network of ocean sanctuaries,” enthused Dr Sandra Schoettner of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign. “These wouldn’t just be lines drawn on a map, but a coherent, interconnected chain of protection encompassing wildlife hotspots, migration corridors and critical ecosystems. This is a blueprint for ocean protection that would safeguard the full spectrum of marine life, help tackle the crisis facing our oceans and enable their recovery.”

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