A U.S. State Department conference on the oceans raised an impressive $800 million for marine conservation this week. The conference was also notable for the announcement by President Obama of an intent to significantly expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
Funds were raised both from government and private sources. In addition to the $800 million haul, Norway pledged $1 billion in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, who also spoke at the conference pledged $7 million over two years through his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
“Since my very first dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia 20 years ago, to the dive I got to do in the very same location just two years ago, I’ve witnessed environmental devastation first-hand. What once had looked like an endless underwater utopia is now riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones,” he said.
Soft coral in Komodo National Park in Indonesia. Photo by: Nick Hobgood/Creative Commons 3.0.
DiCaprio, who once mulled a career as a marine biologist, has long been a supporter of conservation and environmental issues. In 2010, he gave $1 million for tiger conservation and earlier this year pledged $1 million for elephants. Last year, the five time Academy Award nominee, raised nearly $40 million for conservation efforts through a major art auction.
In his speech, DiCaprio pointed to overfishing and destructive fishing practices—like bottom-trawling—as imperiling innumerable marine species.
“We have systematically devastated our global fisheries with destructive practices like bottom-trawling where huge nets drag across the bottoms of the oceans for miles, literally scraping up everything in their path, permanently destroying abundant underwater forests teeming with every imaginable form of wildlife.”
Scientists have warned that mass extinction could hit the world’s oceans due to a number of worsening threats, including global warming, ocean acidification, pollution, and overfishing.
(06/18/2014) President Obama announced yesterday he intends to drastically expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument making what will likely be the largest marine protected area on the planet. While the full extent of the ocean park has yet to be determined, it could potentially protect over two million square kilometers, an area larger than Mexico.
(06/06/2014) A new study added up all the world’s ecosystem services – from carbon storage and crop pollination, to recreation and flood mitigation – and found, every year, nature provides $145 trillion in benefits. It also indicates that land use changes, most of which has been caused by humans, may be reducing these benefits by trillions of dollars every year.
(05/28/2014) Previous research has linked trawling to significant environmental impacts, such as the harvest of large numbers of non-target species, collectively termed “bycatch,” as well as destruction of shallow seabeds. Now, a new study finds this method is also resulting in long-term, far-reaching consequences in the deeper ocean and beyond.
(05/15/2014) Alisi Rabukawaqa, an articulate, vibrant, 26-year-old Fijian known in Oceania as Miss South Pacific 2011, has set her sights on a novel conservation program in Fiji. The Conservation Officer program, created in 2013, supports natural resource management within villages in Fiji and links them with the government arm overseeing the needs of indigenous Fijians. Mongabay.org Special Reporting Initiative Fellow Amy West sits down for an interview.
(05/09/2014) In the waters off the coast of northern Australia lives a species of feathery coral. Years ago, bits of it were collected by the Australian Institute of Marine Science and stored at the National Cancer Institute’s extract repository, along with 200,000 other samples. Researchers retrieved and tested this coral sample, and recently reported that it was very effective at blocking HIV infection of host cells.
(05/08/2014) It could be the plot of a horror movie: humans wake up one day to discover that chemical changes in the atmosphere are dissolving away parts of their bodies. But for small marine life known as sea butterflies, or pteropods, this is what’s happening off the West Cost of the U.S. Increased carbon in the ocean is melting away shells of sea butterflies.
(05/02/2014) The government of New Caledonia last week officially created the world’s largest protected area, establishing a multi-use zone that at 1.3 million square kilometers is three times the size of Germany, reports Conservation International (CI).
(04/25/2014) Conservation groups were jubilant in response to last month’s ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) banning Japan’s long-standing “research” whaling practices in the Antarctic. However, the celebrations proved short-lived after news last week that Japan has rescinded its agreement to abide by the ruling and stop whaling altogether, opting instead to redesign its program and continue whale hunts in the Southern Ocean.