A blueprint for blue planet protection

CNN, July 29, 2010
By Catriona Davies

The oceans have become so depleted by over-fishing, pollution and climate change that they can only be saved by a large global network of reserves, according to a growing consensus among marine scientists.

Campaigners say that sea life — particularly at the top of the food chain — is suffering to such an extent that there will eventually be no fish left if action drastic action is not taken to protect the oceans.

More than 70 percent of the world is covered by oceans. There are currently more than 4,000 marine protected areas covering just over 1 percent of the oceans, but the vast majority of reserves have only limited protection.

According to Professor Callum Roberts, of the University of York, one of the leading campaigners and author of The Unnatural History of the Sea, only about 0.1 percent of the sea is completely protected from all exploitation. This should be between 25 and 45 percent to give marine species the best chance of recovery, he said.

The Global Ocean Legacy, a project of the Pew Environment Group, issued a statement to mark World Oceans Day in June signed by 257 marine scientists in 37 countries calling for a large network of highly protected no-take reserves.

Prof Roberts told CNN: “There’s strong and ample evidence that the oceans’ ecosystems are in trouble and need protection.

“Fishing now reaches every corner of the world’s oceans, so the only refuges are those we have chosen to create.

“In the future climate change is going to loom ever more heavily as a factor in damaging marine life. The only way the oceans can remain resilient to climate change is by establishing more protection.”

According to Greenpeace, 90 percent of the large predator fish stocks are gone or in trouble and 90 percent of exploited fish stocks in the European Union are in trouble.

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