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A Good Year for the World's Oceans

2022 has been a positive year for our planet's oceans with a raft of important initiatives taking place.


Sun rising over the ocean

The headline, of course, is that an "historic" deal was agreed by 200 nations at the COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montreal earlier this month to protect 30 percent of their marine territories (and 30 percent of their land) by 2030. But prior to this future obligation, known as 30 x 30, seas and oceans around the world were being protected by numerous nations.


Colombia became the first country in the western hemisphere to protect 30 percent of its ocean; the Pacific island state of Niue created a marine park protecting 100 percent of its waters, spanning 317,500 sq.km (122,600 sq. miles); and Australia created a 744,000 sq.km (287,000 sq. miles) marine park, meaning that a staggering 45 percent of its territorial waters are now protected.


Europe closed 87 sensitives zones to bottom trawling in the Atlantic, putting 16,419 sq.km (6,340 sq. miles) of ocean below 400 metres off limits; new regulations banned bottom trawling in Kattegatt, a 30,000 sq.km (11,600 sq. miles) area between Sweden and Denmark, and in ‘a massive victory for the planet’ South Africa banned oil and gas exploration on the country’s Wild Coast, protecting 6,000 km (3,700 miles) of coastline.


As part of a debt-for-nature refinancing program organised by The Nature Conservancy, the island nation of Barbados is set to unlock funding for conservation of its entire marine ecosystem. Known as a Blue Bond Deal, this follows a similar arrangement for the island nation of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. It has established protections over a marine environment that's equivalent to twice the size of Great Britain, or 409,000 sq.km (158,000 sq. miles).


Belize doubled the area of ocean covered by its marine protected areas; in the Indian Ocean nation of Comoros a community-led effort inspired three new marine protected areas, and the Republic of Congo established its first ever marine reserves covering 4,000 sq.km (1,545 sq. miles) off the West African coast.


In April, international delegates representing governments, businesses, academic and research institutions, civil society, youth leaders and philanthropic organizations announced major commitments worth more than $16 billion to protect ocean health at the Our Ocean Conference in Palau. To date, OOC events have accrued more than 1,800 commitments worth more than $108 billion and protected at least 13 million sq. km (5 million sq. miles) of ocean.

 

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