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Study in Nature: Protecting the Ocean Delivers a Comprehensive Solution for Climate, Fishing and Biodiversity - National Geographic Society

A ground-breaking scientific study from 26 international experts offering the most comprehensive assessment to date of where to ramp up strict ocean protection to increase seafood security, curb biodiversity loss, and provide a cost effective solution to climate change, as well as economic benefits.

Groundbreaking global study is the first to map ocean areas that, if strongly protected, would help solve climate, food and biodiversity crises

London, UK (17 March 2021) - A new study published in the prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature today offers a combined solution to several of humanity’s most pressing challenges. It is the most comprehensive assessment to date of where strict ocean protection can contribute to a more abundant supply of healthy seafood and provide a cheap, natural solution to address climate change - in addition to protecting embattled species and habitats.

An international team of 26 authors identified specific areas that, if protected, would safeguard over 80% of the habitats for endangered marine species, and increase fishing catches by more than eight million metric tons. The study is also the first to quantify the potential release of carbon dioxide into the ocean from trawling, a widespread fishing practice - and finds that trawling is pumping hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the ocean every year, a volume of emissions similar to those of aviation.

“Ocean life has been declining worldwide because of overfishing, habitat destruction and climate change. Yet only 7% of the ocean is currently under some kind of protection,” said Dr. Enric Sala, explorer in residence at the National Geographic Society and lead author of the study, Protecting the global ocean for biodiversity, food and climate. In this study, we’ve pioneered a new way to identify the places that - if strongly protected - will boost food production and safeguard marine life, all while reducing carbon emissions,” Dr. Sala said. “It’s clear that humanity and the economy will benefit from a healthier ocean. And we can realize those benefits quickly if countries work together to protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030.”

Read the study: Sala, E., Mayorga, J., Bradley, D. et al. Protecting the global ocean for biodiversity, food and climate. Nature (2021). doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03371-z

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