IUCN members vote to encourage protection of nearly a third of the world’s oceans by 2030

By Annabelle Le Jeune

Protectors of the world’s oceans celebrate the first step of many for more sustainable oceans.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s oldest global conservation organization, agreed to encourage protection of at least 30 percent of our oceans by 2030.

IUCN members voted to approve Motion 53, which urges governments to create highly protected marine areas where overfishing and deep sea mining would be banned.

Though the motions are not enforceable, they can pave the way for organizations like the United Nations to create treaties for governments to pass laws.

The IUCN convenes members from around the world to discuss environmental issues at the World Conservation Congress, which occurred for the first time in the United States since it began in 1948.

Hosted in the heart of the Pacific Ocean—Honolulu, Hawaii—the World Conservation Congress focused heavily on preserving the core of human existence: water.

High-profile marine conservationists, such as Jean-Michel Cousteau and Sylvia Earle, advocated for ocean protection at the World Conservation Congress.

“I want people to understand how connected we are to the world which we are dependent upon,” oceanographer and film producer Jean-Michel Cousteau said.

Cousteau has dedicated his life’s work in oceanography to inspiring people to care for our planet. He founded the nonprofit Ocean Futures Society in 1999 to educate people about marine conservation. His film Voyage to Kure drove President Bush to declare the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in 2006. Ten years later, President Obama expanded the monument, making it the largest marine protected area in the world.

Oceans cover 71 percent of our world—only 2.3 percent is highly protected.

Like the world, the human body is mostly water, about 65 percent. Our habitats and our bodies rely on water.

As marine biologist and explorer Sylvia Earle puts it: without our oceans, there is no us.

“We need to have places that are safeguarded to restore the health depleted populations of ocean wildlife—but, mostly just because, it’s the right thing to do,” Earle said.


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