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Ending the climate crisis means creating a society that is going in the right direction at the right speed by 2030, a rate of change that will lead to zero net emissions before 2050. That means halving emissions by 2030 and then halving again by 2040. Regeneration starts now.

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Hawaiian green sea turtles

Hawaiian green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) crowding into a small seaside cavern to bask at sunset. Resting on shore is a behaviour that is very rare for sea turtles, except in Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands. Hawaii, USA.

Credit: Doug Perrine - Minden

Marine Protected Areas

Call to action:

Oceans are deteriorating under the combined pressure of human activities and global warming. Support the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to restore ocean ecosystems.

The health of the world’s oceans is breaking down as a consequence of global warming, overfishing, and petroleum drilling. In order to prevent further harm, governments across the globe have designated Marine Protected Areas. MPAs are defined as marine and coastal areas in which uses and activities are limited and regulated in order to protect fauna, flora, and ecosystems, and for sustainable development of economic activities such as responsible fishing and ecotourism. The outcomes of MPAs can be extraordinary; some have seen a rapid doubling in marine population, helping fisheries outside their boundaries remain sustainable. Supporting conservation efforts and advocating for the expansion of MPAs can significantly help restore the health of our oceans and protect communities that depend on them.

Call to Action

Individuals

Learn why MPAs are crucial for ocean conservation. Oceans account for 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and play a pivotal role in the health of our planet and those who inhabit it. Key points:

Participate in responsible ecotourism and travel to Marine Protected Areas. Marine ecotourism allows visitors from around the globe to admire vibrant and healthy marine wildlife in MPAs. Visiting MPAs provides a livelihood for communities looking after them and ensures their sustainable future. Some examples include:

Join a campaign and speak up. Add your voice to movements advocating for the creation of MPAs:

Make a donation to organizations advocating for MPAs. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) play a critical role in the defense of our oceans. Many NGOs work closely with local and Indigenous communities, marine scientists, scuba divers, or local authorities to plan, create, and manage MPAs. Supporting these organizations with a donation or membership is vital to their success. See Key Players below for a list.

Take a marine conservation course. Marine conservation can increase climate resilience, restore marine habitats, and create jobs for local communities. You can learn the different conservation techniques through the following courses:

Groups

Environmental Organizations

Advocate for the creation of MPAs and raise awareness about their long-term benefits. Environmental organizations can play a key role in advocating for the creation of MPAs. By working closely with local communities, these organizations can identify important or endangered marine ecosystems in their region, run campaigns to raise awareness about their need for protection, and propose effective regulations for long-term management of MPAs.

  • The Nature Conservancy has been a key player in the advocacy and creation of MPAs around the world. Through their innovative Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation proposals, they helped the Seychelles reach their goal to protect 30 percent of their ocean in 2020.
  • IUCN plays a crucial role in advocating and managing MPAs as well as the expansion of an MPA network. Read more about their work here.
  • Marine Conservation Institute is advocating for the creation of MPAs, the implementation of strong and effective regulations, and preservation of special areas in the world’s oceans. Read more about their work here.
  • WWF supports and encourages efforts by countries around the world to develop and implement networks of MPAs with high ecological standards. Read more about their work here.

Advocate for No-Take Zones (NTZs) in MPAs. As of 2021, MPAs cover just 7.9 percent of the oceans, and many of them are still open to fishing. As a result, around 90 percent of the world’s fish stocks are either fully fished or overexploited. No-Take Zones (NTZs) are established in MPAs to prohibit extractive activities such as fishing, mining, and drilling. They are considered to be among the most effective means of biodiversity conservation.

Network and collaborate with Indigenous groups. Conservation organizations are increasingly regarding Indigenous-led actions as the only legitimate form of conservation. Communities that have long histories with their seas have a deep understanding of local ecosystems and their dynamics, which can result in better-informed conservation actions. For example, Indigenous peoples can play an important role in monitoring ecosystems, as some of these groups live in remote, hard-to-reach areas. They often collect data through everyday experiences, allowing them to report trends for species, population numbers over time, interactions among species, or noticeable declines.

Teach people about marine conservation. Teaching marine conservation and the benefits of MPAs is critical to ensuring their sustainable future and conveying conservation methods to future generations. There are many ways to engage with people and offer them fun and exciting ways to learn about marine conservation:

Governance

Implement best practices in the designation of MPAs. Follow guidelines to effectively identify, designate, and establish MPAs in order to secure their future. Some of the key tenets include:

Center Indigenous communities in the decision-making and management process. Around 40 percent of the world’s Indigenous groups have coastal ocean and island regions within their homelands, territories, and nations. MPAs or areas being considered for them often include the traditional lands and waters of Indigenous peoples. These waters include marine resources that Indigenous people use for medicinal, subsistence, spiritual, religious, and other purposes. Collaborating with Indigenous peoples in the decision-making process and management of MPAs is critical to ensuring their sustainable future.

Join a global MPA network. As defined by the IUCN, MPA Networks allow park authorities and managers to cooperate and synergize to discuss best practices for planning, implementing, and managing MPAs. Some of the most effective MPA networks around the world include:

Strengthen measures against destructive fishing practices. IUU fishing, including gillnetting, long-lining, and bycatch can severely hurt conservation efforts in MPAs. Nations that do not have regulatory programs to reduce or mitigate such practices threaten the sustainability of shared ecosystems and living marine resources. Governments should ensure thorough fishing regulations are effectively enforced, including policies and practices against IUU fishing, and implement stronger sanctions, comprehensive control along the value chain, and more cooperation among fisheries’ stakeholders.

Ban or place moratoriums on offshore drilling. The exploration and extraction of oil and gas present great risks to MPAs and the wildlife they host. The impact of oil spills can last generations, decimating entire ecosystems and destroying key coastal industries such as fishing and tourism. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, some 4,900 to 7,600 large juvenile and adult sea turtles and between 56,000 and 166,000 small juvenile sea turtles were killed. Therefore, oil and gas exploration and development activities in MPAs should be banned along with other environmentally destructive practices.

Bad Actors

The fishing industry presents a major obstacle to non-fully protected MPAs and the wildlife they host through destructive fishing practices, notably through the bottom trawling documented in more than 50 percent of European MPAs and 98 percent of UK’s offshore MPAs. Unfortunately, super trawlers are notoriously difficult to attribute to companies, and many go unidentified. Here are a few industrial fishing companies and lobbies responsible for bottom trawling in MPAs:

Sanford (New Zealand): The company was recently caught bottom trawling in an MPA of the Southern Ocean. Sanford’s CEO is Peter Reidie. His phone number is 64-9-379-4720. The company’s contact information can be found here.

Talley’s (New Zealand): The company was recently found bottom trawling in the Hikurangi Marine Reserve. Talley’s CEO is Tony Hazlett. His email is tony.hazlett@nn.talleys.co.nz. His phone is 64-35-28-28-00.

Sealord (New Zealand). The company was caught deep-sea trawling in an MPA off the east coast of the South Island in 2018. Sealord’s CEO is Doug Paulin. His email is doug.paulin@sealord.co.nz. His phone number is 64-9-579-1659.

Parlevliet & Van der Plas (Netherlands/Germany) is a family-run fishing company that owns Abel Tasman (previously known as FV Margiris), the world’s second-largest fishing vessel. It was repeatedly caught bottom trawling in MPAs in Australia and the UK. Parlevliet & Van der Plas’s CEO is Dirk-Jan Parlevliet. His email is djp@mhf.de. His phone is 49-381-826-33-408.

Groupement des Aquaculteurs et Pêcheurs de Crevettes à Madagascar (GAPCM) is Madagascar's shrimp lobby. It is responsible for monitoring and enforcing trawling regulations along Madagascar’s three-thousand-mile coastline with only two boats. It claims that no violations have been identified recently. The president of GAPCM is Claude Brunot. The company’s contact information can be found here.

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