The UN Environment has warned that human activities as well as climate change are destroying the world’s oceans.
It says overfishing, resource extraction, tourism, recreation, coastal development and pollution are damaging habitats and reducing populations of marine species at a frightening rate.
According to the global body, half of the world’s coral reefs are already lost; in 2016 alone, 400-mile stretch of the Great Barrier Reef vanished.
Global consumption of fish stocks stands at 31 per cent largely due to illegal, unreported or unregulated activities.
This it says is unsustainable.
In short, humanity is depleting the ocean’s resources faster than they can naturally recover.
“Marine protected areas offer one of the best options to maintain our oceans’ health and avoid further degradation. They can be particularly effective when developed as part of a wider management solution.
“This can bring about several benefits. Ecological benefits come from protecting species, habitats and ecosystem functions; social benefits come from engaging stakeholders in the planning and fair sharing of benefits; and economic benefits come from ensuring the long-term sustainable use of natural resources and tourism incomes,” it says.
UN Environment says these benefits combined could help deliver several of the Sustainable Development Goals, including reducing poverty, improving food security and tackling climate change.
To this end, it assists countries in approving the effectiveness and equitable use of marine protected areas by providing technical expertise and capacity building support on governance of marine protected areas, and their use within wider integrated ocean and coastal management systems.