More than a quarter of the oceans need urgent protection “to allow marine species to live without human influence,” scientists claim
- At least 26 percent of the oceans need special protection
- To provide safe marine species, an area of 3.3 million miles is proposed
- Researchers mapped the reach and distribution of more than 22,000 marine species
- They discovered that a third only has about 10 percent of their reach in protected water
More than a quarter of the world’s oceans need urgent protection to allow marine species to live without human impact, scientists claim.
To keep the aquatic animals safe, researchers from the University of Queensland say that millions of square miles of ocean should be limited to human activities.
This may include a ban on fishing, commercial shipping and limiting the discharge of pesticides in waters that cover a quarter of the earth.
The Northern Pacific Ocean near China and Japan, as well as the Atlantic Ocean between West Africa and North and South America are important areas to keep clear, the team said.
Scroll down for video
Currently, one third of all marine species are protected less than 10 percent of their reach, according to researchers from the University of Queensland
The space needed is based on how far different marine species have to roam for things like food and mating, the team said in an article published in One Earth.
Authors mapped more than 22,000 marine species habitats and created a model to identify the minimal area needed to capture part of each species range.
To ensure that they have the space to roam without the risk of people forming more than 3.3 million square miles of water, protected areas must be created.
The range is how far they have to travel and discovered that a third of all species have less than 10 percent of where they have to go under protected places.
“Preserving the areas we identified in our study would give all marine species a reasonable amount of space to live without human influences such as fishing, commercial shipping or pesticide disposal,” said author Kendall Jones.
As part of the research, they include areas of international importance for biodiversity and areas where the human impact on the oceans is extremely low.
They discovered that the total ocean area needed for conservation varied from 26-41 percent of all waters – depending on the proportion of each preserved species.
James Watson, director of science at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the findings demonstrated the need for more global conservation efforts.
“The nations of the world are coming together in China this year to sign an agreement that will guide global conservation for the next ten years,” said Professor Watson.
“This science shows that governments must act courageously, just like the Paris Agreement on climate change, if we are to stop the extinction crisis that many marine species face.”
Here is a diver with a humpback pod, but according to the researchers’ protection system, large parts of the ocean would be limited to little or no human activity
He said it was crucial global conservation strategies that included rapid action to protect endangered species and ecosystems.
“We must use a wide range of strategies, such as non-fishing zones, marine reserves and broad policies to put an end to illegal and unsustainable commercial fishing activities.”
The authors emphasize that ocean conservation was essential for people and biodiversity and not just for marine species.
“Millions of people around the world depend on marine biodiversity as a crucial source of food and income,” said Professor Watson.
“A well-designed global conservation agreement will help preserve these livelihoods in the future.”
The findings are published in the journal One earth.
WHAT IS BIODIVERSITY?
Biodiversity is the diversity of life on earth.
It includes diversity, the number of species of plants and animals, the genetic diversity within and between these species and the various biomes and ecosystems to which they belong.
These ecosystems can include the rainforest, tundra and desert
Biodiversity also includes the diversity within microscopic organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi.
What influence does biodiversity have on us?
Biodiversity provides our food directly or through pollination, medical discoveries and ecosystem services.
The latter include everything from cleaning water and absorbing chemicals, what wetlands do, to providing oxygen for us to breathe.
Threats to biodiversity
Earth’s biodiversity is declining as a result of activities such as deforestation, land use change, intensification of agriculture, over-consumption of natural resources, pollution and climate change.
Some scientists believe there is sufficient evidence to confirm that we are in the sixth massive extinction of the earth.
This is where a large loss of 75% of the species occurs over a relatively short geological period of two million years.
There have been five mass extinctions so far, perhaps the most famous being the loss of the dinosaurs caused by the asteroid
But this current mass extinction is different because it is caused by people.