Global Ocean Legacy

Although 71 percent of the planet’s surface is water, remarkably little of the world’s marine environment is protected. Unrelenting pressures from industrial fishing and other extractive activities threaten the worlds’ oceans—a situation that has changed only slightly with recent efforts to promote marine protected areas as a conservation tool.

Most of these areas are relatively small and provide primarily local environmental benefits. Few nations seem willing to place off limits world-scale, ecologically significant expanses large enough to protect ocean systems. Even in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s largest protected areas, only 33 percent is closed to fishing. In most countries, the land protected in terrestrial parks far outstrips the area in marine reserves, and most maritime nations have few or no marine reserves at all.

Global Ocean Legacy originated as an outgrowth of work done by Pew in 2005–2006 to support the creation of a fully protected marine reserve in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. That effort resulted in designation of the largest, permanent “no-take” marine reserve in the world. The area measures 360,000 square kilometers (138,000 square miles) and includes reefs, atolls, shoals and islands in largely unspoiled condition.

Inspired by this success, the Pew-managed Global Ocean Legacy project is dedicated to establishing, globally, over the next decade, at least three to five large, world-class, no-take marine reserves. Global Ocean Legacy marine reserves will provide ocean-scale ecosystem benefits and help conserve our global marine heritage.

Partners supporting Global Ocean Legacy include Pew, the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and the Robertson Foundation.

For more information and resources, visit the Global Ocean Legacy campaign.

Photo by Dr. Chas Anderson.

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