Christina Peng / Beckman HS 11th Grade
The ocean covers 70% of the globe and produces more than half of the oxygen we breathe. Water gives us life, but what do we give back in return? Due to our current, destructive methods of fishing, 90% of the world’s big fish are gone. We treat the ocean as an inexhaustible cupboard, snatching valuable resources as we please. In A Life on Our Planet, David Attenborough said that if we declared a third of our oceans as “no fish zones,” we’d have enough fish for everyone. Well, guess what?
Beginning in late 2018, the heads of state of 14 nations sat down together to discuss the tragedy of the world’s oceans. The High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy included nations of various sizes, economic status, and locations around the globe. The 14 members are from Australia, Canada, Chile, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Portugal, and the island nations of Fiji, Jamaica, and Palau. The leaders planned 14 gatherings, but they were only able to meet twice before the pandemic.
That’s why when the group announced the world’s most far-reaching pact to protect the ocean this December, it came as a wonderful surprise. By 2025, the 14 leaders agreed to sustainably manage 100% of the oceans under their national jurisdictions--an area roughly the size of Africa. In addition, by 2030, they pledged to set aside 30% of the seas as marine protected zones in order to revive the ocean.
These large commitments to ocean preservation will have a tremendous effect on limiting overfishing, rebuilding declining fish stocks, and halting the flow of plastic waste. Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says that the solutions offered by the panel could generate 40 times more renewable energy and lift millions of people out of poverty. Combined, they represent a powerful force of environmentalists.
This pact will initialize the effort to protect the oceans that give us life. It is especially significant that Japan, a powerful marine influence in the Asian Pacific which had previously been hesitant to create marine safe zones, signed on to the agreement. Japan’s engagement could convince other reluctant nations to join the movement. The 14 leaders are now in the process of inviting other nations to join them in their efforts to protect the ocean.
<Christina Peng / Beckman HS 11th Grade