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What Are The Biggest Challenges For Saving The Oceans?

by Tara Lohan: Oceans stretch across 70 percent of our planet, and the vast majority of the world beneath them is unmapped and unexplored…

 

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Their depths may still hold many secrets, but we know they face serious risks from overfishing and pollution. The biggest threat of all is climate change, which could affect billions of people in coastal communities, said marine biologist and conservation strategist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson.

Johnson is the founder and president of Ocean Collectiv, a strategy consulting firm that looks at conservation solutions through a social justice lens. Developing those solutions has never been more necessary. As Johnson said, “The lack of public and corporate reaction and response to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report—which tells us we have 12 years maximum to avoid catastrophic climate change—is terrifying.”

We talked to her about what’s at stake and the types of solutions she thinks are most promising.

In order to protect our oceans, what policy changes do we need at the national and international levels?

The top three are ending the use of fossil fuels, closing the high seas to fishing and protecting 30 to 50 percent of the coastal ocean.

Beyond policy, what else should we be focusing our efforts on? Enforcement? Public engagement? Technology?

We need to be pressuring corporations to adopt sustainable practices ASAP and to raise the bar for what qualifies as sustainable. For example, some of the fisheries being certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council are far from deserving of that label.

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