Let’s start with the air we breathe. About 80% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the oceans. That is a significant number, no doubt. Plus the oceans also store carbon dioxide. In fact they store a higher amount of carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. The ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, playing a key role in regulating our planet’s climate and weather patterns by transporting heat from the equator to the poles.
How about medicine? A lot of medicinal products you use today come from the ocean. Did you know that ingredients for medicines that help fight heart diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis are found in the ocean? And let's not forget that the ocean provides us food. And it’s not just limited to seafood. You might be surprised to know that your peanut butter or soy milk contains ingredients from the sea!
The Word Economic Forum dubbed the oceans as our planet’s most valuable asset. Here’s why. Yearly, the oceans contribute $70 trillion to global gross domestic product or GDP. 90% of global trade volume and 40% of global trade value is supported by the oceans. The WEF adds that the yearly value of ecosystem services oceans provide is $38 trillion.
The oceans also provide us with tons of recreational activities from swimming, boating, kayaking, whale watching, and a lot more.
With all of these benefits we get from our oceans, it would only be wise that we protect them. But did you know that only about 1% of the world’s oceans is protected?
What are Marine Protected Areas and Ecological Connectivity?
Although 95% of our underwater world is still unexplored all of it is under threat. Marine Protected Areas or MPAs were established to help protect marine ecosystems and vulnerable species threatened by human activities which include drilling for petrol and overfishing. Almost 50% of all species on our planet rely on our oceans but many of these species are endangered. MPAs aim to conserve biodiversity and stop or at least minimize extinction risk.
You’ve probably heard many times that we are all interconnected. This is true in our water world as well. Ecological connectivity is the free movement of species, and the flow of natural processes which sustain life on our planet. In the past MPAs were managed in isolation. However, scientists and experts have learned and recognized that managing MPAs in isolation is not enough in preventing biodiversity loss and fighting climate change. There is a need for coordination among and between marine protected areas.
13 Rules of Thumb for Marine Connectivity Conservation
Because of the continued threats to our oceans, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Commission on Protected Areas, Marine Connectivity Working Group (MCWG) recently released The 13 Rules of Thumb for Marine Protected Areas and MPA Network Design