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A Triple Win for Oceans, Climate, and Us

The world must protect at least 30% of the global ocean in order to restore marine life, increase seafood supply, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Meeting this goal would generate annual benefits – in terms of increased economic output and improved ecosystem services – that far exceed the investment required.

WASHINGTON, DC – Last November, something happened in the middle of the South Atlantic that was unusual enough to make a local northern rockhopper penguin raise one of its long spiky yellow eyebrows. The tiny archipelago of Tristan da Cunha, a British Overseas Territory, set aside more than 687,000 square kilometers (265,000 square miles, an area larger than France) of ocean to establish the world’s fourth-largest marine protected area (MPA).

Tristan da Cunha hosts the breeding grounds for more than three-quarters of the world’s remaining northern rockhoppers, an endangered species. With the archipelago’s ecosystem now protected from industrial fishing that targets the penguin’s prey, scientists hope that this iconic species can recover.

More than half of all fish stocks in the Southwest Atlantic are overfished, meaning that we are taking them out of the water faster than they can reproduce. Globally, over three-quarters of fish stocks are overfished, and the total catch of wild fish has been declining since the mid-1990s. Excessive fishing is thus harming global food security.

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