Exciting news for Global Goal 14: Life Below Water, several countries have pledged to protect the deep blue sea!
Calling your bluff, dolphin. And Global Citizens should care too!
Earlier this week Chile held the 2015 Our Ocean conference (what a refreshingly straight-forward conference name! Take note, world). Our Ocean brought together 400 politicians, academics and environmentalists and specifically called for voluntary commitments to protect biodiversity, rather than “empty speeches” (take more note, world).
And the conference proved successful! First, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced plans to create two enormous marine reserves. The first, the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park, will make Chile home to the largest marine reserve in the Americas. The second, the Easter Island Marine Park, will be the third-largest fully protected marine area in the world. Which made New Zealand say, “Whoa Chile. You stole our thunder.” Just last month at the UN General Assembly, New Zealand announced plans to create the world’s third-largest fully protected marine area, but Chile’s plan steals the title. But hey, I can get behind one-upmanship if it’s for a good cause.
Together Chile’s two reserves will protect 350,000 square miles...more than the country’s entire landmass! The proposed Easter Island park will block commercial fishing as well oil and gas exploration. It’s a real game-changer that will affect generations to come and protect a bunch of insanely beautiful and cool stuff like this:
Plus, Chile wasn’t the only country getting in on the Our Ocean action. Via video message US President Barack Obama announced the creation of new reserves in Lake Michigan and the tidal waters of Maryland. These are the first marine sanctuaries the US government has established in 15 years! Lake Michigan is famous for containing dozens of shipwrecks, and the region in Maryland is home to beavers, otters, and the symbol of all that is great and free in ‘murica (not to mention a fantastic fisher).
The Our Ocean conference also brought about some exciting political developments. Together the US and Cuba vowed to protect marine life in the waters between their countries (the Florida Straits and Gulf of Mexico) and to make a list of all their shared species. It is the first joint environmental effort between the two countries since they resumed diplomatic relations last year, and it’s an excellent example of how increased collaboration can foster positive change. Cuba is known for it’s not-too-shabby-looking coral reefs and now scientists can bring back useful information in restoring US reefs, plus Cuba could get needed funding from US environmental philanthropists who have been hesitant to donate due to political obstacles.
With the Our Ocean conference on the books, the world is already one step closer to success with the Global Goals. I’d say sharks haven’t been this excited since the Super Bowl 2015 Halftime Show.