Wednesday, 17 October 2012

COP 11 biological diversity: International Union for Conservation of Nature reveals 120 marine hotspots

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  For the first time the world ocean, including its
international waters, comes under scientific scrutiny, combining new
facts about the distribution, migration routes and reproductive,
nesting and nursing grounds of many threatened species including tuna,
sharks, turtles and whales.

At the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) in the city, the International Union for Conservation
of Nature (IUCN) on Monday released the first-ever secrets that are
hidden deep in the oceans. The Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative,
of which IUCN is a partner, has been engaged in compiling and
processing the new research data.

“Many of these important areas lie outside of national jurisdiction,
and thus remain neglected or poorly protected,” says Kristina Gjerde,
IUCN Senior High Seas Advisor. “We need to bring these remote places
to the centre of government attention.”

Over 120 marine ‘hotspots’ located by experts in the Western South
Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Wider Caribbean and Western
Mid-Atlantic are now waiting to be approved by the CBD. This approval
is needed to push the international community to recognize and protect
these areas. The new knowledge gathered about them should be used by
those managing marine activities to preserve areas beyond national
boundaries, in line with international law – according to IUCN.

“We are calling the Convention to approve the proposed EBSAs
(ecologically and biologically significant areas) and urge the
international community to protect them – for the sake of our oceans
and the services they provide to people around the world,” says
Patricio Bernal, IUCN Coordinator of Global Ocean Biodiversity

The oceans are a vital part of the earth's life support system and are
home to an estimated 80 per cent of the world's biodiversity, from
tiny phytoplankton to blue whales – the largest creatures on the
planet. They provide us with oxygen, food and water and regulate the
earth’s climate. While unsustainable human use, climate change and
ocean acidification continue to threaten their biodiversity, only
about 2 per cent of the world's oceans is protected – including less
than 1 per cent of their international waters – and much of them
remains unexplored.

New tracking technologies have allowed researchers to examine
migration routes of many species, including the Pacific leatherback
sea turtles, threatened by poaching and unintentional fishing.

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