More than 245 marine scientists from 35 countries have signed a statement to policymakers, requesting that large areas of the sea be set aside as marine reserves, in essence "National Parks at Sea".
The statement, issued by Global Ocean Legacy, illustrates how marine reserves are essential in protecting areas from the pressures of overfishing, pollution, climate change and other human activities.
It also draws comparisons between parks protecting the biodiversity of our lands accounting for 5.8 percent of terrestrial habitats, whilst only 0.4 percent of our ocean’s are fully protected.
The following seven key benefits were outlined in the statement:
- Ensuring that top predators such as sharks, swordfish and marine mammals remain abundant.
- Providing reference sites for future scientific research and public education.
- Matching the scale of management to the scale of important ecosystem processes, such as dispersal and migration of many species.
- Improving resilience to the accelerating impacts of climate change.
- Ensuring the longâ€term recovery, conservation and maintenance of populations of highly mobile and migratory species.
- Ensuring protection whilst minimising social and economic costs.
- Enhancing the global reputations of managing nations.
Existing protected areas and no-take zones were offered as evidence in supporting the need for such a scheme, including the Chagos Protected Area – a group of tropical islands which form the British Indian Ocean Territory, with an area of some 544,000 square kilometres given protected status by the UK government on April 1st 2010, making Chagos the world’s largest no-take marine reserve.
Global Ocean Legacy, a project of the Pew Environment Group, released the statement on World Ocean Day: 8th June.
If you are a marine scientist, you can add your support to the statement.