By Jennifer Mishler, Ecorazzi
The ever-increasing threats to the survival of oceans are putting all life on this planet at risk. As Leonardo DiCaprio recently asked in his call to save the seas, “What else is more vital to our health and well-being than our Oceans?” While commercial fishing and pollution continue to take their toll, positive steps are happening.
One of those steps was just announced at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The conference was recently the focus of some controversy over its meat-filled menu, despite the production of meat being a significant contributor to climate change, but there was some good news. The Maldives has unveiled plans to turn its islands into the world’s largest marine reserve.
According to the Global Post, all 1,192 islands will be a reserve by the year 2017. “I would like to announce today Maldives will become the first country to become a marine reserve. It will become the single largest marine reserve in the world. This policy will allow only sustainable and eco-friendly fishing. It will exclude deep-sea, purse-seining and other destructive techniques,” announced President Mohamed Waheed.
In purse-seining, a circular net is placed around large schools of fish, then the net is drawn closed in the shape of a bag to prevent the fish from escaping. It is often used to catch fish like tuna, including the increasingly threatened bluefin tuna. Other species of ocean life often fall victim to this and other forms of large commercial fishing as “unintended bycatch.”
The Baa Atoll, consisting of 75 Maldives islands is already a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, but Waheed believes the whole country can become a protected area for ocean life. According to PR Newswire, he adds “This commitment reflects our respect for our unique natural environment. We have taken these measures to protect our coral reefs, lagoons, coral islands and coral sand beaches. The Maldives will take any action necessary to ensure our future.”