The UK has announced the launch of a new global alliance to help drive urgent action to protect the world’s oceans and their wildlife.
The Global Ocean Alliance will push for the trebling of existing targets to ensure at least a third of the oceans is safeguarded in Marine Protected Areas by 2030.
It will also call for the 30by30 ambition to be adopted at the next Convention on Biological Diversity conference in China and introduced into international law through the High Seas Treaty in 2020.
Britain is leading the way on this issue, having been the first country to call for a third of the world’s oceans to be protected from damaging activity, such as plastic pollution and warming sea temperatures, over the next decade.
Belize, Costa Rica, Finland, Gabon, Kenya, Seychelles, Vanuatu, Portugal, Palau and Belgium have so far signed up to the 30by30 initiative, with the protections aimed at helping sensitive species such as seahorses, turtles and corals to thrive and help fight climate change by protecting key carbon habitats such as mangrove forests.
The UK Government also previously pledged to protect more than 50% of UK and Overseas Territories waters by 2020 and ban the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England from April 2020.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “The UK is taking a world leading approach to marine conservation and is on track to safeguard nearly 50% of our precious marine habitats. But we are determined to go further.
“The world’s ocean is a shared resource, sustaining lives and livelihoods and supporting 80% of our blue planet’s biodiversity. Only by working together can we protect and restore our marine environment for future generations to come.”
Less than 10% of world’s oceans is currently designated as Marine Protected Areas.
International Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith, who is in New York to attend the UN Global Assembly said: “We have all seen the damage that both climate change and human exploitation has had on our most pristine environments. Our ocean is under unprecedented pressure, with appalling effects on marine biodiversity and human livelihoods.
“I am delighted to be in New York to press the case for an ambitious global network of marine protected areas which will be critically important in reversing the loss of biodiversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change.”