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Australia announced on Wednesday that it would step up in the fight to protect the world’s oceans from pollution, overfishing and changing climates, officially joining an ocean preservation coalition of close to 40 nations. 

Australia has now joined the likes of France, United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and 32 others in the Global Ocean Alliance 30by30. The UK-led international initiative hopes that by 2030, at least 30% of the global ocean will be classified as marine protected areas (MPAs) — which will help safeguard biodiversity and sustain ecosystems.

Australian Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said Australia was “committed” to global collaboration. 

"The world’s oceans provide more than half the oxygen we breathe, they regulate the climate and feed billions of people across the world,” Ley said in a statement. “By working together, we can step up global ambition to protect the marine environment upon which the health of our planet and global economy depends.”

Ley said protecting Australia's and the world's ocean's isn't just the right thing to do — it also makes economic sense.

Oceans around Australia provide the nation with $25 billion worth of ecosystem services each year. The oceans ability to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen plays a significant role in climate regulation, while sea habitats like coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass provide natural barriers against extreme weather events like storms, erosion and floods. 

That’s why the government recently committed $67 million to protect Australian oceans and marine ecosystems, Ley said. 

"Australia has one of the largest networks of MPAs in the world, with 37% of our marine jurisdiction formally protected — an area larger than the nation of Argentina,” she said. “We are now working with other countries to show that a 30% target is achievable globally and that it can have countless benefits for both marine environments and sustainable ocean economies.”

Worldwide, less than 10% of global oceans are classified as MPAs. 

The UK Department For Environment, the office behind the initiative, said this simply isn't good enough — and has urged all nation’s to join them in their fight.

“Science shows MPAs are one of the most important ways to protect precious sea life and habitats from damaging activities — and evidence supports a target of at least 30% to reverse existing adverse impacts, preserve fish populations, increase resilience to climate change and sustain long-term ocean health,” the department wrote in a media release.


Defend the Planet

Australia Joins Dozens of Nations in Alliance to Save the World’s Oceans

By Madeleine Keck