Today about eight percent1 of the ocean and 15 percent of land2 is protected. We’re on track to reach a global goal of protecting 10 percent of the ocean and 17 percent of the land by 2020, but world leaders need to dramatically boost ambition if we are to protect our natural resources and the people and wildlife that depend on them.
This is why Oceana is pleased to join the world’s leading philanthropists and ocean conservation organizations, such as Hansjorg Wyss, the Wyss Foundation and the Wyss Campaign for Nature in encouraging world leaders to commit to protect at least 30 percent of our land and sea by 2030.
As Mr. Wyss noted in his opinion piece in the New York Times announcing his support of this effort and pledging $1 billion over 10 years to help accomplish the goal: “Every one of us — citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders — should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected.”
At Oceana, we are contributing to this global goal through our work to protect critical ocean habitat in Chile, the Philippines, Canada, Spain, Peru, and other countries.
- In Chile, Oceana celebrated a major victory when Chilean President Michelle Bachelet protected 262,000 square kilometers of ocean surrounding the Juan Fernandez Islands in a no-take marine park. Today, more than 20 percent of the country’s ocean area is within a no-take reserve. The waters surrounding these islands are uniquely biodiverse and productive places, home to wildlife found nowhere else in the world4, as documented by Oceana expeditions, in partnership with National Geographic’s Pristine Seas. This milestone has made Chile a global leader in ocean conservation.
- In the Philippines, after campaigning by Oceana and its allies, the Philippines government created a marine protected area on Benham Bank. Strict protection was granted for 500 square kilometers, with only scientific research permitted, and an additional 3,000 square kilometers were declared a Fisheries Management Area where active fishing gear, such as trawls and seines, will be banned. Oceana’s 2016 expedition documented the stunning biodiversity and abundance in the region, and these new measures will help protect marine life including mesophotic (twilight) coral reefs, whales, dolphins, sharks, rays and sea turtles.
- In Canada, Oceana successfully advocated for an marine protected area encompassing 1,000 square kilometers of the Banc-des-Américains, a submarine bank off Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula. The Banc-des-Américains is characterized by steep cliffs and sheer drop-offs that extend from the coastline to depths over 150 meters. An expedition by Oceana and Fisheries and Oceans Canada documented the wealth of biodiversity in the area, including corals, sponges, forage fishes and large migratory marine mammals. The area also provides critical habitats for species at risk, including Atlantic wolffish and the North Atlantic right whale.
- In Spain, after more than a decade of advocacy by Oceana and its allies, including six research expeditions, the Spanish government increased the size of Cabrera National Park from 100 to 900 square kilometers, making it the Mediterranean Sea’s second-largest marine national park. It is also the first national park in the Mediterranean to formally protect deep-sea corals. Cabrera is one of the richest and most biodiverse places along the Spanish coast and will provide shelter to many important species, including sperm whales, dolphins, and bluefin tuna.
- In Peru, Oceana is currently advocating for a new marine protected area designation to protect the Nazca Ridge. The Nazca Ridge is an underwater mountain range that begins about 100 kilometers offshore and runs from Peru toward Easter Island off the coast of Chile. This new MPA would comprise seven percent of Peru’s ocean area, and complement the Chilean Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park, which protects the portion of the Ridge that extends into Chilean waters.
(1) UNEP-WCMC and IUCN (2019) Marine Protected Planet [On-line], [May, 2019], Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN Available at: www.protectedplanet.net.
(2) UNEP-WCMC, IUCN and NGS (2019). Protected Planet Live Report 2019. UNEP-WCMC, IUCN and NGS: Cambridge UK; Gland, Switzerland; and Washington, D.C., USA. https://livereport.protectedplanet.net/chapter-2
(4) Friedlander et al. 2016. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0145059