The seas are our allies in the fight against the climate crisis – they cool the planet. But they are out of whack. Overfishing, acidification and rubbish swirls under the water surface are just some of the consequences of global overconsumption.
Underwater, hundreds of kilometers from the mainland, is a world little known to us. There gigantic creatures wander through the oceans, and life thrives in lightless depths. This diversity of the oceans must be protected at all costs – it is about nothing less than the continued existence of humanity.
The vast blue wilderness that makes up almost two thirds of the world’s oceans is the high seas. It covers almost half of our planet and is larger than all the continents combined. Far away from national territorial waters, it is also far removed from people’s everyday lives – and yet shaped by their traces: Industrial overfishing, raw material extraction, plastic waste and climate change are severely affecting the oceans. The result: a massive loss of biodiversity and natural habitat. That is why Greenpeace and marine scientists are calling for at least 30 percent of the oceans to be protected by 2030. That is ambitious: so far it is only around one percent. But it can be done. Greenpeace did the math.
From pole to pole
Such marine reserves are sorely needed. They have numerous functions that are indispensable for life on our planet: They are important retreats for the flora and fauna in the sea, they preserve and promote biodiversity and thereby make the oceans more resistant to the effects of climate change. In addition, healthy oceans with high biodiversity can bind more carbon dioxide from the air and thus slow down global heating.
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza will be on the oceans for most of the coming year to document what we want to protect. The high seas are so far removed from civilization that most people only know them as a large blue cloth when looking out of the airplane window. But underneath there is an infinite amount of life that needs to be discovered – and protected. The route of the Esperanza runs from the North Pole to the South Pole, across the Sargasso Sea, to the Amazon Reef, in the southwest of the Atlantic, which is considered the “Wild West” of industrial fishing, a largely unlawful area, there are no limits to self-service.
For a strong global ocean contract
So far there is no global, legally binding treaty for the establishment, administration and enforcement of marine protected areas on the high seas. The current law of the sea focuses more on the use of the oceans than on their protection. That is about to change: Government representatives are now negotiating a global ocean treaty under the umbrella of the United Nations. A legally binding set of rules is to be created, which ensures the “protection and sustainable use of biological diversity outside national territorial waters”. Humanity is offered a historic opportunity here.
The oceans are our origin and our common heritage. We all have a responsibility to protect them – for ourselves and for future generations. So please sign our petition to the United Nations so that they can fulfill their responsibilities!
Take part and fill out our water sports card: whether sailing, swimming, stand-up paddling, rowing or kiting – every stretch in, over and on the water counts for the protection of the oceans!
A contribution from GREENPEACE: https://www.greenpeace.de/meeresschutz