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Nations Vow to Protect 30 Percent of World’s Oceans by 2030 -- But China, South Africa are Holding Back

Sep 15, 2016 03:39 AM EDT
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef was declared dead on Friday after an obituary was posted on Outside. However, to clarify things, recent report says that the reef is not dead but is sick and dying.
(Photo : FraukeFeind/Public Domain/Pixabay)

Is it too late to save the world's oceans? The world is hoping it's not. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) just passed Motion 53, which aims to name at least 30 percent of the global ocean area "highly protected" by 2030.

According to a report from New Scientist, the motion was passed during the World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii. This major environmental conference is held every four years and this year Palau's President Tommy Remengesau opened the ceremonies with a speech that "challenged" all the parties of the union to follow the lead of his country to protect 30 percent of the entire planet's oceans.

Right now, only two percent of oceans are officially protected areas.

The vote for the motion was overwhelmingly positive with 129 states and government agencies in favor of Motion 53, while 16 were against it. NGOs held a separate vote; 621 were for the motion and 37 were not.

Despite the successful passing of the motion, it's significant to note that the powerful opposition includes China, Japan and South Africa. The three countries made pre-vote statements against the motion with China and South Africa both describing the 30 percent target as "ambitious and unreachable". China also said that the country believes the proposal should have been more focused on the sustainable use of marine resources.

This year's IUCN World Conservation Congress saw more than 10,000 of the world's leading conservationists including heads of states, policymakers, CEOs, scientists and non-profit organizations, according to Tree Hugger. IUCN Director General Inger Andersen said, "No IUCN Congress before has come at a more pivotal time for humanity's relationship with the environment."

After all, a recently released IUCN report revealed the disastrous consequences of ocean warming including the migration and death of marine life, faster spread of disease, and the frequency of destructive typhoons. Considering the rapid warming of the sea temperatures, there is truly no better time to start taking action.

Read More:
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Ocean Warming Now at Dangerous Level; Wreaking Havoc in Marine Life, Human Health

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