05/16/2011 - Last year, members of the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed that "by 2020, at least ... 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, [should be] conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas."
The pace is going to have to pick up a little if that target is going to be met. Right now, marine protected areas cover just 1.42 percent of the global ocean; given the present rates at which new MPAs are being created, calculates Dan Laffoley, the 10 percent figure won't be reached until 2047. Furthermore, the biogeographical area that is presently covered is patchy and uneven, and the representation of offshore areas in that patchwork quilt is especially poor. But, adds Laffoley, who is the marine vice chair of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, there is still good news.
The reserves that are being added are also getting bigger. At the time of its establishment, Papahānaumokuākea was the largest contiguous no-take marine reserve in the world; it has since been surpassed by Chagos, which covers an area of 544,000 square kilometers (210,000 square miles) and contains the biggest, and one of the healthiest, coral atolls in the world. But Chagos looks set to surrender its briefly held crown, Jay Nelson of the Pew Environment Group's Global Ocean Legacy project told the IMCC.
Read the full article Marine Reserves Pick Up Pace of Ocean Protection on Discovery News' Web site.