World's Biggest Initiative on Ocean Protection

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Sweetlips thriving in a protected marine park in Raja Ampat, Indonesia 

Leaders of Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau, and Portugal have committed to sustainably manage nearly 30 million sq km of their national waters by 2025.

The group of disparate nations known as the Ocean Panel account for 40 per cent of the world's coastlines and have announced the world's biggest ocean sustainability initiative. They plan to protect an area roughly the size of Africa and are calling on other ocean nations to join the campaign.

They came together two years ago to set up a programme to benefit fishing communities and to effectively protect the ocean.

Erna Solberg, the prime minister of Norway, said: 'Humanity’s wellbeing is deeply intertwined with the health of the ocean. It sustains us, stabilises the climate and leads to greater prosperity. For too long, we have perceived a false choice between ocean protection and production. No longer. We understand the opportunities of action and the risks of inaction, and we know the solutions. Building a sustainable ocean economy is one of the greatest opportunities of our time.'

Scott Morrison, the prime minister of Australia, said: 'Australians have always had a deep connection to the ocean. It is an integral part of who we are: our culture, lives and livelihoods … When I speak to children in schools in Australia, pollution destroying our oceans is what they talk to me about. Along with the Ocean Panel Leaders, we are committing to sustainably manage 100 per cent of our ocean areas by 2025 and we encourage other world leaders to join us.'

The announcement this week included:

  • a global target to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030, with national plans by 2025 that would ensure local sustainability
  • the use technology to improve the monitoring of fishing
  • eliminating the dumping of fishing gear
  • Investing in sewage and waste management infrastructure in developing countries
  • national targets on decarbonising shipping transport
  • the scaling up environmentally responsible forms of fish farming.

Studies carried out by The Ocean Panel forecast vast economic benefits healthy oceans would provide with six times more seafood and forty times more energy being produced by 2050.

Henrik Österblom, the science director at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, said: '[This initiative] shows that politicians are listening to the science. Now they need to act. The ocean is not too big to fail. If we do not change course, key biophysical functions in the oceans could collapse. Yet just 2.6 per cent of the ocean has the  level of protection it needs.'

 

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The report found that more than three billion people rely on food from the oceans each day, and a healthy ocean contributes $1.5tn to the global economy, as well as absorbing a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions and producing half the world’s oxygen.

 

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