Seattle WA (October 22, 2013) – Marine Conservation Institute today announced the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES), a comprehensive science-based strategy for advancing marine protected areas worldwide. Oceans are essential to human survival and prosperity and yet human activities are pushing many critical marine species toward extinction. Marine protected areas are generally recognized as the best way to protect the diversity and abundance of the oceans’ ecosystems, yet less than 2% of the oceans’ area is now protected. Progress in establishing effective marine protected areas has been hampered by lack of agreement on protection levels needed to meet conservation goals and lack of clarity on how well existing sites are protected. GLORES (pronounced glôr-ees) will develop and manage objective criteria that incentivize and accelerate the creation of strongly protected marine areas.
In the first phase, Marine Conservation Institute will gather and incorporate the best thinking of marine biologists, oceanographers, fisheries scientists, geographers, economists, market researchers, business people and others to create the GLORES criteria. Existing and proposed marine protected areas will then receive one of three different grades: Gold, Silver or Bronze Global Ocean Refuge status; or no status if they do not meet a minimum standard. Increases in international prestige, economic return and access to funding will be the incentives for meeting the criteria.
Once this transparent system is in place, GLORES will support governments and international government organizations with marine jurisdictions to save at least 10% of every ocean biogeographic region by 2020, and 20% by 2030. An objective evaluation system will make these processes more efficient, cost-effective and easier to embrace. GLORES does not replace other approaches to protecting particular marine species or areas. Rather, it creates a structure that encourages these efforts.
GLORES is based on the vision of marine biologist Dr. Elliott Norse, a founding father of marine conservation with 35 years of experience in the field. Dr. Norse founded Marine Conservation Institute in 1996 and is now its chief scientist. “Our world’s oceans are going to suffer mass extinction if we don’t act now to save them,” said Dr. Norse. “It is urgent that we mobilize the intelligence and resources of the world’s people and governments to protect our vital interests by establishing safe areas for marine life.”
Protecting areas is far less knowledge-intensive and costly than managing species one-by-one. No-take marine reserves, the kind that GLORES will inspire, have higher species diversity, more fish and larger fish to produce more vigorous young fish. Moreover, small, isolated marine protected areas are too vulnerable to events such as oil spills, coral bleaching or upwelling of acidic, deoxygenated water.
“The overriding goal of GLORES is an extremely robust system of marine protected areas worldwide,” said Dr. Lance Morgan, president of Marine Conservation Institute. “Protecting 20% of our oceans’ critical areas by 2030 is an ambitious goal, but by making the process more objective and transparent, it will be easier for the world to embrace this important endeavor.”
Norse and Morgan announced GLORES to conservationists at the International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3) in Marseille, France today. Every four years, IMPAC brings together major maritime stakeholders from around the globe to assist in the conservation and sustainable development of the oceans.
Marine Conservation Institute is actively looking for partners and funders for GLORES. For more information on GLORES, please go to: http://www.globaloceanrefuge.org.
About Marine Conservation Institute
Marine Conservation Institute is a team of highly-experienced marine scientists and environmental-policy advocates dedicated to saving ocean life for us and future generations. The organization’s goal is to help the world create an urgently-needed worldwide system of strongly protected areas—the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES)—a strategic, cost-effective way to ensure the future diversity and abundance of marine life. Founded in 1996, Marine Conservation Institute is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization with offices in Seattle, near San Francisco and in Washington DC.