ONLY 13 PER­CENT OF THE OCEAN HAS BEEN LEFT UN­TOUCHED

Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Briefing - SDAA

With im­prove­ments in ship­ping tech­nol­ogy, most of the world’s oceans are no longer con­sid­ered wild, and th­ese ar­eas are now at risk of be­ing lost, ac­cord­ing to re­search from the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Santa Bar­bara and the Univer­sity of Queens­land.

Nineteen hu­man stres­sors to the ocean were con­sid­ered when iden­ti­fy­ing the oceans’ re­main­ing wilder­ness – de­fined as ar­eas devoid of in­tense hu­man im­pacts. Such hu­man stres­sors in­clude com­mer­cial ship­ping, sed­i­ment runoff and sev­eral types of fish­ing. Most re­main­ing wilder­ness is lo­cated in the Arc­tic and Antarc­tic or around re­mote Pa­cific is­land na­tions such as French Poly­ne­sia. Very lit­tle wilder­ness re­mains in costal habi­tats such as coral reefs, salt marshes and kelp forests.

James Wat­son, a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Queens­land, di­rec­tor of science at the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety and se­nior au­thor of the re­search pa­per, com­mented that the find­ings in­di­cate an im­me­di­ate need for con­ser­va­tion poli­cies to recog­nise and pro­tect the re­main­ing ma­rine wilder­ness ar­eas, as most are cur­rently un­pro­tected.

“Ma­rine wilder­ness ar­eas are home to un­par­al­leled lev­els of life, hold­ing mas­sive abun­dances of species and high ge­netic di­ver­sity, giv­ing them re­silience to threats like cli­mate change,” he says. “We know th­ese ma­rine wilder­ness ar­eas are de­clin­ing cat­a­stroph­i­cally, and pro­tect­ing them must be­come a fo­cus of mul­ti­lat­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal agree­ments.” The pro­fes­sor adds, “If not, they will likely dis­ap­pear within 50 years.”

BE­LOW Wild, un­touched ar­eas of the ocean now need the most pro­tec­tion

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