A recent report shows that more than 7% of the world’s oceans and 15% of the land now have protected status, taking us closer to the goal of creating nature refuges on 17% of the world’s land and 10% of seas by 2020. However, enforcement remains a problem, and the protection of offshore oceans and freshwater ecoregions is lagging behind, according to the UN report.
So what?Setting aside protected areas is crucial for safeguarding biodiversity in all its forms, as well as the important carbon sinks associated with such reserves. In marine protection areas (MPAs), it should allow a refuge for marine life away from over-exploitation by fishing and disturbance from shipping highways. The theory goes that when fish stocks are allowed to recover in an MPA, they become more abundant and spill outside the area, providing fertile fishing grounds. However, a recent concerning discovery found that marine life is often worse inside MPAs that outside of them. Controlling illegal dredging and trawling is practically impossible across reserves often many tens of thousands of square kilometres.