Dr. Paul Johnson
Dr. Paul Johnson

Yes, it’s true, we do indeed have scientists. And some days, we even let them out of the lab.

Today is one of those days.  Our Greenpeace Chief Scientist, Dr Paul Johnston, has travelled from our international laboratory at the University of Exeter, UK to Ottawa, Canada to further our campaign to create a global network of marine reserves to protect the oceans.

Greenpeace has worked with scientists ever since the organisation’s founding days in the early seventies.  Recently, some of the world’s best scientists have sailed on the Arctic Sunrise to monitor the growing threat to the Arctic region from climate change.

Dr Johnston is attending the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Ottawa to stand up and defend the oceans. Greenpeace wants to see 40 percent of the world’s oceans fully protected through a global network of marine reserves. We are aiming high with our 40 percent goal, as the World Database on Marine Protection reports that currently, less than 1 percent is protected.

Of the 1 percent, the majority of marine and coastal protected areas are situated within country Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), leaving the high seas devoid of protection. Even more startling, is the fact that only 12.8 percent of protected areas can be considered as true marine reserves, meaning closed to all extractive activities including fishing.

In 2004, the CBD put ink on paper, pledging to establish a global network of marine reserves by 2012. Five years later however, the pledge is still struggling to make it off the page and into effect.

For years we’ve been trying to help governments designate areas for protection -mapping it all out for them in the Roadmap to Recovery, launched at the CBD in Brazil in 2006.  Last year, the CBD adopted criteria to identify areas for protection, which were very similar to our own.

Armed with two case studies on how marine reserves could work in the Pacific and Mediterranean, Dr Johnston will be giving advice on how to implement the criteria to identify areas for protection.

Two Greenpeace ships have been in action in the Mediterranean and Pacific this year – highlighting the need for protection, especially confronting overfishing of tuna stocks which are decreasing at an alarming rate.

But as Dr Johnston will show in Ottawa, change can be made to protect our oceans. We have the solutions, we just need governments to hear us out and implement them.

Currently 160,761 supporters have helped us be heard and defend the oceans by signing our Marine Reserves Petition.

If we want fish tomorrow, we need marine reserves today!