Oceans give us life; from the air that we breathe, to the water that we drink and the food that we eat. Now oceans are in deep trouble due to overfishing, mining, drilling, pollution and climate change. On March 31, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an alarming report about the impact of climate change on our oceans, including a serious threat to food security and the livelihoods of the billions of people around the globe who depend on fish.
But there is a simple solution to stop the current ocean crisis. Just like national parks, sea and ocean-based sanctuaries — large areas where you don’t take anything, break anything, or pollute anything — can create safe havens where ocean life can flourish. This means more fish, more food for all, healthier oceans and happier people.
Since 2005 Greenpeace has been campaigning for a network of ocean sanctuaries covering 40% of the ocean. But there is a problem. At present, there is no mechanism allowing the creation of ocean sanctuaries in international waters. These are waters beyond the control of coastal states, representing nearly 65% of the world’s oceans.
Greenpeace is calling for a new UN Agreement that will enable the establishment of a global network of ocean sanctuaries across the entire ocean.
World leaders have committed to make a decision on whether or not start working on this new Agreement by September 2015. To prepare the decision a number of meetings will be held at the UN over the course of 2014/15. The first of these meetings is going on as I write this.
On 1st April — the first day of the meeting — we organised an outreach activity in front of the UN HQ. We wanted to send a strong message in support of ocean protection and the need for a new UN agreement that will deliver ocean sanctuaries across the oceans. People on the street and a group of environmental science students from NYU joined us in sending photo messages and tweets in support of ocean protection.
Our goal was to let UN delegates know that people are watching and are expecting the UN to take urgent action. We also wanted to create some fun content to drive traffic towards our Support Ocean Sanctuaries petition and the Jellyfish burger spoof videothat were both launched on 1st April. Our message was simple and clear: if we do not take urgent action, the jellyfish burger will soon become a reality. So “If you’d rather have fish, support ocean sanctuaries”.
Greenpeace can’t save the oceans on its own, we all have an interest in healthy oceans. Everyone can play a role, from individuals to corporations, fishing communities to scientists. As you read this, UN delegates from all around the world are discussing the future of our oceans. We need them to hear our voices and know that people do care and won’t tolerate any more “jellyfishy” business!– if you haven’t already, please show your Support for Ocean Sanctuaries.