‘Time is running out to save our fragile seas‘, says Attenborough. Acclaimed broadcaster warns the Government it is running out of time to protect marine habitats.
Sir David Attenborough, whose natural history films are considered among the best ever to be produced by British television, has joined a campaign urging the Government to protect the country’s marine habitat and wildlife, arguing that “time is running out to save our fragile seas”.
The 86-year-old presenter and former controller of BBC2 is asking the Government to immediately designate 127 marine conservation zones covering around 37,000 square kilometres of English and Welsh offshore waters, and almost 12 per cent of the sea bed, drawn up by consultation with more than a million stakeholders last year.
The list of zones was trumpeted as one of the country’s most significant natural protection initiatives in decades, but conservationists are now accusing the Government of “dragging its feet” over their implementation, with month-long delays announced and indications that only a small proportion will initially be designated.
Sir David, who is vice president of the Wildlife Trusts, said: “Charles Rothschild and his colleagues identified some of our finest wildlife sites in 1915, most of which are, or would now be, national nature reserves.
“Nearly a century on, we have the first countrywide list of marine sites needing protection, this time based on much more science – costing over £8m to draw up. I urge the Government to designate the full list of 127 sites now, for day by day the wildlife in these sites is being destroyed and damaged. Time is running out for us to save our fragile seas.”
The Wildlife Trusts launched a campaign this weekend to recruit advocates of the proposed zones, which range from small stretches of coastline to huge areas of the sea floor. Some are home to rare species including the short-snouted seahorse, cuckoo wrasse, and poor cod. Others cover chalk reefs and feeding grounds for passing whales and dolphins.
Simon King, president of the Wildlife Trusts, said the health of England’s marine environment was at “crisis point”, with many habitats and creatures brought to the brink of extinction. He added: “Shamefully, in the UK we have only a few tiny areas which are truly protected, making up less than 0.001 per cent of our waters… This is our chance to leave the natural balance sheet better off than the one we inherited.”
A Defra spokesperson said the first zones were likely to be designated next year – around six months later than initially planned. He added that the Government was committed to “creating a network of marine conservation zones but must ensure that these zones are created in the right places and in the right way”. He said “gaps in the evidence” were causing the delay.
- Attenborough issues plea to ‘save our seas’ (independent.co.uk)
- David Attenborough presents award to old friend Ted Smith (guardian.co.uk)
- Wildlife Trusts celebrate 100 years (bbc.co.uk)
- VIDEO: Centenary of the Wildlife Trusts (bbc.co.uk)
- Wild and free: flower meadows around Britain (guardian.co.uk)
- The UK’s marine reserves are nothing but paper parks | George Monbiot (guardian.co.uk)
- Charles Rothschild’s incredible legacy | Tony Juniper (guardian.co.uk)
- Signs of marine life recovering in no-take zone at beauty spot (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
- Wildlife Trust celebrates 100th birthday today (huntspost.co.uk)
Representatives from ZSL’s Conservation and Living Collections teams on Thursday participated in the launch of the Reefs at Risk Revisited report launch.
In the 10 years since the first Reefs at Risk analysis, threats have increased by 30 percent. This includes recent impacts from climate change which causes rising ocean temperatures and coral bleaching.
The most immediate and direct threats arise from local sources, which currently threaten more than 60 percent of reefs (about 150,000 sq km of reefs). Local threats include overfishing, destructive fishing, coastal development and pollution.
Unless steps are taken to reduce local pressure and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, the percent of threatened reefs will increase to more than 90% by 2030 and to nearly all reefs by 2050.
The report identifies 27 nations most vulnerable to coral reef degradation and loss in the world (of 108 reef countries assessed). The nine coun¬tries most vulnerable to the effects of coral reef degradation, due to high dependence on coral reefs and low adaptive capacity, are: Haiti, Grenada, Philippines, Comoros, Vanuatu, Tanzania, Kiribati, Fiji, and Indonesia.
The report makes 60 recommendations for action. ZSL’s coral reef conservation efforts respond to many of these, including supporting and implementing effective marine protected areas (in Chagos and the Philippines through Project Seahorse), building conservation and management capacity in coral reef nations (EDGE Corals, Project Seahorse), supporting the most vulnerable countries (e.g. Philippines through Project Seahorse) and influencing policy (Climate Change programme; GLOBE Action Plan for Coral Reefs).
The report was led by the World Resources Institute, along with the Nature Conservancy, the WorldFish Center, ICRAN, UNEP-WCMC, and GCRMN. One of the report’s authors, Dr Allison Perry, is a former member of the Project Seahorse team.
The full report can be downloaded at http://pdf.wri.org/reefs_at_risk_revisited.pdf
Good news for Forest & Bird and conservation , but a selcctive win…. Yes indeed – NZ Govt is being very ‘particular’ in their conservation efforts – they are choosing to be particular and conserving just that site!
Forest & Bird today welcomed the government’s decision to expand marine reserves and marine protected areas around New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic islands.
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson announced that a marine reserve would be created covering the entire 12-nautical mile territorial seas around Antipodes Island.
Of the territorial waters around the Bounty Islands, 58 percent will be made a marine reserve and Danish seine fishing will be banned on the western side and south east corner of the remaining territorial waters.
A marine reserve will cover 39 percent of the territorial waters around Campbell Island and a potential giant crab fishery will be allowed in the remaining area with a review after five years.
Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell said Forest & Bird welcomed the expansion of protection in the Sub-Antarctic islands. The only existing marine reserve in New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic region is in the territorial waters around the Auckland Islands.
“Including all of Antipodes Island as a marine reserve is a good result for conservation.” Hackwell said.
“Forest & Bird would rather have seen all of the territorial seas of the other two Bounties and Campbell Islands fully protected.
“But the outcome of 60 percent of the Bounties being put in a marine reserve, with trawling restriction in the remaining area, is a big improvement on the present lack of protection.
“The decision not to fully protect the territorial seas around Campbell Island on the basis of a possible crab fishery that does not yet exist is disappointing.
“All the territorial seas around New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic islands have World Heritage status and as a country we should be recognising their international status with appropriate protection.
“This has been the result of an intensive year-long process in 2008, involving all the stakeholders.
“We should look at setting up similar forums for setting up marine reserves in other parts of New Zealand,” he said.
COMMENT Barry Weeber Pity the Government only accepted the fishing industry proposals for Campbell and Bounty Islands. World Heritage Area and species still at risk.
MY COMMENT Yes indeed – NZ Govt is being very ‘particular’ in their conservation efforts – they are choosing to be particular and conserving just that site!
South Africa maps first deep-sea preserve
Underwater canyons, deep-sea coral reefs and sponge banks are part of a unique ecosystem that South Africa wants to save within its first deep-sea marine protected area. After 10 years of consultations, South Africa has mapped the boundaries for the proposed reserve stretching 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the eastern KwaZulu-Natal coast.The mapping required synthesising the many divergent interests in the Indian Ocean waters, with 40 industries from fishing to gas lines to jet skis operating in an area home to about 200 animal species and their ecosystems.”All of this data was then entered into conservation planning software in order to identify areas of high biodiversity while avoiding areas of high (economic) pressure,” said Tamsyn Livingstone, the researcher who heads the project.The conservation area is being born in a spirit of compromise, which will allow people and companies to continue using the protected waters in zones designated as lower-risk threats to biodiversity.The scheme still needs to be passed into law, but would join South Africa’s existing network of marine preserves strung along its 3,000-kilometre (1,800-mile) coast stretching from the warm Indian Ocean to the cold southern Atlantic.South Africa has embraced this “participatory” method to protecting species living in its water, an approach pioneered in California and Australia.Global goals for protecting biodiversity have been debated for two weeks at a UN summit in Nagoya, Japan (http://www.cbd.int/cop10/), in an effort to set goals on saving habitats which would help to end the mass extinction of species.Environmental groups want 20 percent of coastal and marine areas protected, they say China and India are lobbying for six percent or lower. Talks are supposed to wrap up on Friday.Part of the challenge is in protecting species that are more often than not still unknown. Only one quarter of the estimated million species in the oceans have been discovered.A global census of the oceans unveiled in early October uncovered prehistoric fish thought dead millions of years ago, capturing researchers’ imaginations about what else lurks in the deepest parts of the sea.”Offshore biodiversity is not well known,” said Kerry Sink of the South African National Biodiversity Institute.Exploring the seas remains an expensive project, prompting South African researchers to reach agreements to share information with fisheries, coastal diamond mines and the oil industry.”South Africa’s plan is unique in covering all industry sectors to ensure that biodiversity planning minimizes the impact on industry,” she said.”Healthy offshore ecosystems underpin healthy fisheries and keep options open for future generations.”With growing worries about climate change, scientists say the deep seas could become an important source of protein for the planet, because water temperature changes less at great depths.That assumes that the growth of industry can be managed alongside the marine life, especially as oil companies find ways to drill in ever-deeper waters.The explosion of a BP oil rig in April off the Louisiana coast, rupturing a 1,500-metre deep well, highlighted the risks.It took five months to shut off the leak which caused the biggest the oil spill in US history, with 205 million gallons of oil flowing into the Gulf.
Marine Reserves in UK http://www.marinereserves.org.uk/
South African Biodiversity Inst http://www.sanbi.org/
World Oceans Day is June 8 http://www.theoceanproject.org/wod/.
Whlist growing up in my native New Zealand, never all that far from the coast and beaches, I enjoyed the times I was ‘beside the sea’ but tried not to take it for granted.
In time, I became involved in helping to run Seaweek activities for children and families http://www.seaweek.org.nz/ , with the resulting buzz of seeing these children gaining a very real and tangible benefit from being outdoors. I also helped set up the first marine reserve http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/marine-and-coastal/marine-protected-areas/ near Wellington, the capital city. All of these experiences were based on my long-time voluntary efforts with the ‘Forest and Bird’ New Zealand’s largest independent conservatioon group http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/.
Having travelled to the United Kingdom, and enroute visiting Italy, France and most recently Croatia, I again had a renewed awareness of how much these countries rely on, benefit on but I wonder if they take for granted (?), their coasts, wildlife and all of the incumbent natural resources.
Our fish stocks are being depleted, with Marine Conservation Society suggestions regarding sustainable fish http://www.fishonline.org/information/MCSPocket_Good_Fish_Guide.pdf.
The whaling ban is in jeapordy http://www.wspa-international.org/latestnews/2010/iwc-proposal-could-harpoon-commercial-whaling-ban.aspx.
The current oil spill in the Bay of Mexico only serves to illustrate how much we – or at least industry and government (?) – are willing and able to risk these finite natural resources. The images of wildlife covered in oil and Barak Obama with Tar balls on the beaches is the visual ‘tip of the iceberg’. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/oil-spill-creates-huge-undersea-dead-zones-1987039.html
Nature is resilent – the latest reports of islands thought to be sinking, actually doing the complete opposite - but we humans are consistently battling with Nature for more and more resources, due to an ever-expanding population, and the seas and oceans are hsowing the strain!
Is it really ‘all up’ to the future generations or can we not start, here and now, to make that difference?