10/26/2013 - Government ministers from 130 countries issued a joint declaration today emphasizing the critical role marine protected areas—both within and outside areas of national jurisdiction—play in protecting 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 the internationally agreed-upon target of protecting 10 percent of the world’s oceans and coastal areas by 2020.
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 helping to achieve this target in marine 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, the largest, fully protected marine reserve in the world. In 2006, the United States created the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Leading marine scientists have voiced their support for such efforts by recently signing a Pew-issued 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 in Marseille, France.