“The world is finite and we need to look after it.” – Sir David Attenborough
30 by 30 is an initiative to protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030. While the ocean covers roughly 70% of our planet’s surface, only 5% of the global ocean is protected in some way. Of that 5%, only 2.5% is heavily protected from destructive activities such as fishing and human development. While we are still a long way from reaching the U.N’s Sustainable Development Goal of protecting 10% of the ocean by 2020, with accelerated timelines and worldwide work- the critical benchmark of generating 30% ocean protection by 2030 is within the realm of possibility. This is often done by declaring a designated area in the ocean as a marine protected area.
Image by ‘MCI’
A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is essentially a “safe zone.” MPAs are conserved for various reasons, including economic resources, biodiversity conservation and species protection and involve management and protection according to various objectives. For example, many MPAs often limit overfishing so that fish stocks are able to grow, creating a win-win situation for both the ocean and the fishing industry in the long run.
So why is 30 by 30 important? If we protect our oceans, our oceans will protect us. Oceans are resilient. Science and history has shown us that life comes BACK in protected areas. When we contribute to our ocean’s safety, the ocean contributes to our climate safety. But protecting any 30% of the ocean won’t do the trick- it has to be the RIGHT 30%. Identifying key ocean areas that play a crucial role in ocean resilience is something researchers have been looking at for years. Some of these factors include protecting ecosystems that are still intact or areas that have the potential to be, conservation that supports landscape connectivity and conserving ocean regions that are representative of the world’s various diverse ecosystems.
While ocean protection may seem far off, like someone else’s job, it’s not. Here are various ways you can contribute to the 30 by 30 goal. The first step is to learn. Learn about ocean conservation, the various initiatives in place and why they are in place. Once you’ve done that- spread the word. Use your newfound knowledge in everyday conversations and talk about the planet, the ocean and the 30 by 30 goal. Simple dialogue is the first step to making a difference. If you’re a social media kind of person, use the hashtag #love30x30. Another way to get involved is to look into what your local government is doing about ocean conservation. Are they supporting 30×30? Finally, if you have the resources, donate to organizations like Ocean Unite that are working to make this goal a reality. Remember, change happens one step at a time!
Special thanks to Umeed Mistry, Reef Watch, and WCS-India for allowing us to use there wonderful images for this site