A call for more marine reserves

Marine reserves—“national parks at sea”

JEFF HUNTER/GETTY IMAGES

The seas around the Northern Mariana Islands, 2,250 km south of Japan, are home to incredibly rare species, not to mention unusual features like a boiling pool of liquid sulphur (the only other known sulphur pool is on one of Jupiter’s moons), gigantic mud volcanoes, and the Mariana Trench, our planet’s deepest canyon. But convincing the public to care about places underwater, which they won’t ever visit, can be a challenge. Still, over 245 marine scientists are calling for a global system of marine reserves—“national parks at sea”—to protect against overfishing, pollution, and other threats.

Oceans cover 71 per cent of Earth, notes the Pew Environment Group’s Global Ocean Legacy, but less than 0.5 per cent is fully protected, compared to almost six per cent of land habitats.

Governments began designating national parks over a century ago, and are now moving to protect the ocean. In 2009, the U.S. set aside 245,000 square km around the Mariana Islands, and Canada just protected 3,500 square km at the Haida Gwaii islands, including the sea bed. “The bottom of the ocean is quite incredible,” says Jay Nelson, director of Global Ocean Legacy, “even if people can’t see it except in pictures.”




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A call for more marine reserves

  1. "The seas around the Northern Mariana Islands…. are home to incredibly rare species, …" You should really fact check anything the Pew Environment Group claims. We in the Marianas found them to be culturally arrogant and untrustworthy. They stretched the truth to fit their own draconian conservation agenda and didn't care how their actions affected Marianas island communities. They will do whatever it takes to force their idiological conservation campiagns on others – if that involves being low-handled – they obviously have no problems with it.

    In the case of the Marianas Trench Monument – the end does not justify the means.

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