As climate change becomes a more pressing topic there has been a lot of attention on the human generated poor condition of our oceans and how it impacts life.
Recently, The National Geographic Society announced a major expansion of its pristine seas campaign to help protect the planet’s most species-rich marine areas. Their goal is big and it aims at convincing world leaders to officially protect an additional 770,000 square miles (two million square kilometers) of ocean. They plan to designate more than 20 new underwater locales as marine reserves in the next five years. New areas being targeted include the Seychelles, northern Greenland, and Patagonia in South America.
“Preserving our oceans is essential for protecting biodiversity,” former President Bill Clinton said as he announced the Society’s efforts at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Monday. “The ocean is the world’s largest natural resource,” Clinton said, noting that it contributes more than $20 trillion to the global economy. Yet, “human impact on the ocean is undeniable.”
The expanded effort will build on National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project, which has financed 10 scientific expeditions to remote areas of ocean around the world, including in the South Pacific and off Africa, Russia, and South America. New efforts will target the Seychelles—an archipelago in the Indian Ocean—northern Greenland, and South America’s Patagonia region, Clinton said.
Currently, as a result of the program’s work, government leaders have protected areas in the United States, Chile, Kiribati, and Costa Rica that cover more than 150,000 square miles (about 400,000 square kilometers).
“A few country leaders have already shown tremendous leadership in ocean conservation by creating the largest marine no-take areas in history,” says Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who launched Pristine Seas in 2009.
National Geographic’s chief science and explorations officer, Terry Garcia, pointed to over-fishing, pollution, and climate change as major threats facing the ocean.
Learn more about their current expeditions here.