Colombia’s outgoing President Iván Duque has announced that the country became the first in the Western Hemisphere to make 30% of its ocean territory a protected area, banning fishing and oil exploration.
Why it matters: Ocean degradation caused by overfishing, coral reef bleaching, pollution and other factors, along with rising sea levels and temperatures caused by climate change, increases the likelihood of death, flooding and a loss of food sources, scientists say.
- It also destroys the ocean’s biodiversity.
- Oceans produce half of all the world’s oxygen and absorb 31% of human-produced carbon dioxide.
Background: Over 100 countries have joined a pact to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030.
- Less than 8% of the world’s oceans are protected areas, according to the Marine Conservation Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Seattle.
Details: Duque made the announcement during the United Nations Ocean Conference in Portugal on Monday.
- It includes the creation of four new protected marine areas at the UN conference. Almost a third of its oceans will now have preservation measures, and extractive activities will be forbidden in many areas.
The big picture: Nine countries with Pacific coasts — the U.S., Mexico, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Canada, Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia — signed a declaration at the Summit of the Americas this month promising to work faster toward protecting ocean areas and to collaborate more.