From the heat of the equator to the deep chills of the North and South poles, the ocean binds the planet together. Making up more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, it is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s known species, many of which still await discovery. But human activities are increasingly threatening its health.
Research shows that large, fully protected marine reserves are a key tool for addressing many challenges to ocean health. Reserves help conserve valuable biodiversity and protect traditional cultures closely linked to the sea.
In 2006, The Pew Charitable Trusts and several partners launched the Global Ocean Legacy project in an effort to establish the world’s first generation of great marine parks. In its 10 years of existence, Global Ocean Legacy helped to obtain commitments to safeguard more than 2.4 million square miles (6.3 million square kilometers) of ocean.
But even with these successes, less than 3 percent of the world’s ocean has strong protections. Recognizing that the International Union for Conservation of Nature recommends we need to protect 30 percent of our oceans, based on the best-available science, Pew and the Bertarelli Foundation have joined forces in a new partnership with the goal of increasing the number of fully protected parks in the sea from nine to 15 by 2022.
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South Georgia and the nearby Sandwich Islands are home to one-quarter of the penguins on the planet, as well as tens of millions of breeding pairs of other seabirds and an abundance of seals and whales—two animals that were nearly wiped out by hunting here in the 1800s and 1900s. Read More
The planet is facing increased environmental pressures—from warming oceans to species loss. At the same time, new tools such as satellite monitoring and forensic science continue to support conservation gains around the world. But will technology help save the Earth? Read More
In 1788, some 13 years after British explorer Capt. James Cook landed on South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, the first sealer arrived. By 1825 an estimated 1.2 million fur seals had been killed for their pelts, and by 1912 the fur sealing industry had come to an end, with the species almost wiped out on South Georgia. Read More