The UK Government has taken an historic stand for ocean conservation.
At the UN General Assembly in New York, the UK Government will call on all nations to contribute towards a global target of safeguarding 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.
This would make the United Kingdom the first major economy to officially recognise the importance of ocean protection at this large scale.
UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh has called it “a landmark decision”.
Pugh continues, “It took my breath away. If this is supported by other nations and followed through, it will be the most important moment for ocean conservation in history.”
The announcement follows Lewis Pugh’s recent 328-mile (528 km) swim along the length of the English Channel. During The Long Swim he called for more ambitious ocean protection targets, specifically that 30% of the oceans should be fully protected by 2030.
“This news is very exciting. The pain of my 49-day swim has quickly disappeared.” says Pugh.
The current global target for marine protection, as set by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, is 10% by 2020. But as the world approaches that deadline, having fallen short and with our oceans under increasing pressure, the scientific community has warned that this number needs to dramatically increase to at least 30% in order for oceans to recover.
“On paper, the UK has strong credentials in marine conservation,” says Pugh. “While we welcome this landmark decision, we need to focus not only on the number but the nature of the protection. Fully protected MPAs are what it takes for these oceans to fully recover, without which they are like frames with no pictures.”
Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York added, “Marine Protected Areas will give people and wildlife more time to adapt to the rapid changes that are currently taking place. Protecting more ocean boosts prospects for fisheries. If you stop fishing an area, the fish quickly become bigger and more abundant, producing many times more offspring. These eggs and young fish spill into fishing grounds and increase catches. This means that by fishing less, in time it is actually possible to catch more fish, at less expense from more prolific stocks.”