November 20, 2008

SURVEY: World Governments Should Increase Ocean Protection

Only 1 percent of the world's oceans have been granted protective status, according to a recent survey.

Governments have dedicated themselves to a goal of defending 10% by 2012, even though the publishers of the report imply that there is no chance of attaining this goal.

Shielding ecologically significant areas can aide fish stocks in regeneration, and also can promote the tourism industry.

The investigation was headed up by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and was printed in the journal Conservation Letters.

"For those of us working in the issue full-time it's not a surprise, we've known all along that marine protection is lagging behind what's happening on land, but it's nice to have it pinned down," said TNC's Mark Spalding.

"It's depressing that we've still got so far to go, but there are points of hope," he added.

Only four years ago, participants in the UN's biodiversity conference, which consists of just about every country, vowed to defend 10% of the oceans in an ecologically conscience way.

Shielding them does not mean prohibiting actions like fishing or shipping entirely, but verifying that they are performed correctly.

The areas presently protected are in the countries' Exclusive Economic Zones, and the majority of them located on coasts. All the same, only 4% of these coastal waters are sheltered.

Countries disagree extensively in what kind of protection they have authorized.  Where New Zealand has 70% of its coast under protection, many countries in the Mediterranean region have put aside less than 2%.

In this emergent world, Dr Spalding mentions Guinea-Bissau as a country that has been devoted in their fortification, especially in the Bijagos Archipelago, home to a community of hippos living along coast, as well as other usual marine species.

Palau, Indonesia, Micronesia and other Caribbean states are starting momentous advancements, he said.

Only 12% of the Earth's land areas have been put under defense.


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