Globally, our oceans are in deep trouble. Overfishing, pollution, bycatch and global warming are endangering the lives of marine creatures and habitat. We're also endangering our lives if we don't protect the oceans. We rely on the oceans for food, our livelihood and survival!
The greatest hope of protecting and restoring the health of our oceans is to create a network of marine reserves. Studies of existing marine reserves prove that protected areas produce up to 200 times as many fish, which grow larger and older than those in unprotected waters, and help to restore depleted fish stocks.
While our oceans cover two-thirds of the planet, only 0.5 percent are protected - compared to 13 percent of protected lands around the world. We're calling for a network of reserves to encompass 40 percent of our world's oceans.
Marine reserves are vital to restoring the health of our rapidly declining oceans. They can help restore marine biodiversity and put endangered species and habitat on the road to recovery. Marine reserves provide a safe-haven for marine life and give them the freedom to spawn, mate, and feed without the pressures of capture or habitat loss.
After many years of work by many groups, and tremendous public support, two important reserves have been created recently: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument and a California network of 29 marine protected areas stretching more than 200 square miles between Santa Barbara and San Francisco.
The Hawaiian national monument is the largest marine conservation area on Earth, encompassing 140,000 square miles, and protecting more than 7,000 species. The monument includes 4,500 square miles of relatively undisturbed coral reef habitat. Promising new regulations further the protection provided to this unique marine environment, and it is our hope that additional regulations and the upcoming draft management plan will continue to uphold the spirit of full protection for this pristine area.
The Californian network of reserves was a historic establishment of shoreline protection as well as the first state-established network of marine protection.
Now that these important first steps have been taken, we must continue down this road towards true protections for all of our waters. The oceans and all that depend on them are counting on us, and we have to take action, since oceans protection truly does begin on land.