Press Release, Analysis

Governments Issue Ajaccio Declaration Calling for an Increase in Ocean Protected Areas

Adelie PenguinGovernment ministers issued a joint declaration today emphasizing the critical role marine protected areas—both within and outside areas of national jurisdiction—play in restoring and revitalizing the health of the world's oceans. The statement was issued following their meeting at the Ajaccio Ministerial Conference for Ocean Conservation on the island of Corsica in Ajaccio, France

With less than three percent of the oceans currently safeguarded in marine-protected areas, the governments' declaration reaffirms their strong commitment to at least meet the internationally agreed-upon target of protecting 10 percent of the world's oceans and coastal areas by 2020. Many scientists argue that a far greater proportion of the global ocean should be fully protected.

The ministers urge the Member States of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, or CCAMLR, to establish the world's largest marine protected areas in Antarctica's Southern Ocean. This includes the Ross Sea, one of the most pristine marine environments left on Earth. CCAMLR is currently meeting in Hobart, Tasmania, until November 1 to make a decision on that designation.  

The declaration also points to the importance of protecting marine life on the high seas, which comprise about 64 percent of the oceans and contain a great wealth of biodiversity, and calls for the international community to adopt a decision at the United Nations General Assembly to launch negotiations on a new protocol for protecting marine biodiversity in these waters.

In recent years, Pew, through its Global Ocean Legacy project, has played an instrumental role in working to create the world's first generation of great marine parks in areas under national jurisdiction. In 2012, Australia created the Coral Sea Marine National Park. Two years earlier, the United Kingdom designated the Chagos Marine Reserve in the Indian Ocean, one of the largest, fully protected marine reserves in the world. In 2006, the United States created the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Leading marine scientists also voiced their support for such efforts by recently signing a statement calling for the establishment of the first generation of great marine parks around the world.

The Ajaccio ministerial conference concluded a weeklong gathering of nearly 1,800 delegates from around the world at the International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3) in Marseille, France.

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