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Biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas: Four Percent of Ocean Protected

Nov 30, 2015 06:00 PM EST
Chagos Marine Reserve in the Indian Ocean
Only about 4 percent of the world's oceans is currently protected. In 2010, representatives of 200 nations agreed in Japan to protect at least 10 percent of the ocean by 2020, for the sake of biodiversity. A University of British Columbia study has new findings regarding what must be done.
(Photo : David Tickler)

The vast majority of the ocean is unprotected by marine preserves, as a recent University of British Columbia study found. About four percent of it is within marine protected areas (MPAs), according to a release.

In 2010, nearly 200 countries' representatives met in Nagoya, Japan and committed to protect at least 10 percent of the world's ocean by 2020, as part of the United Nations' Aichi Targets.

"The targets call for much more than just 10 percent protection," lead author of the study Lisa Boonzaier said in the release. "They require that protected areas be effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected, all of which will help to ensure that MPAs contribute to more than percentage targets and meet the goal of conserving biodiversity."

The study's findings were published recently in the journal Oryx. In them, the researchers noted that countries need to establish more MPAs, but they also need to ramp-up their biodiversity protection by increasing the percentage of MPAs that are designated as no-take and protected as such.

"No-take" means that no extraction of resources is allowed. This includes fish, crustaceans, seaweed, oil, gas, and other living and nonliving resources. Currently, about 16 percent of the preserved areas of ocean are "no take."
Still, in 2006, about 0.65 percent of the ocean was preserved.

"Given the creation of very large marine protected areas in recent years, notably though the Global Ocean Legacy Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, there is a chance that the Aichi Targets can be reached, which would be a major achievement," co-author Daniel Pauly at UBC said in the release. 

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