Conservationists say measures to protect oceans are ‘about 100 years behind land conservation’
Long overshadowed by land conservation concerns, the condition of the world’s oceans is finally moving into the spotlight. At the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in September the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) passed a motion calling for internationally binding legislation to safeguard the high seas, and set a goal of protecting 30% of marine areas by 2030.
“An international process has been launched to create a new legally binding instrument for the governance of the high seas,” said François Simard, deputy director and senior adviser for fisheries at IUCN’s global marine and polar programme. He added that the negotiations to change the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea would take up to two years. “IUCN, leveraging its status as UN observer, is part of the negotiations and has worked to promote frameworks some countries have adopted as their own negotiating positions.”
Almost two-thirds of the oceans across the globe lie outside the jurisdiction of countries. While about 15% of land area is under some form of protection, less than 4% of the ocean is protected, notes IUCN. Marine biologist Dr Greg Stone, executive vice-president of Conservation International, observed in a recent newspaper interview...