Jul 3, 2022 - World

Colombia is first in Western Hemisphere to protect 30% of ocean

An aerial view of a green ocean beach with a few boats floating on it
An aerial view of a beach near Capurganá, Chocó, in Colombia on March 19. Photo: Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Colombia's outgoing President Iván Duque has announced that the country became the first in the Western Hemisphere to make 30% of its ocean territory a protected area, banning fishing and oil exploration.

Why it matters: Ocean degradation caused by overfishing, coral reef bleaching, pollution and other factors, along with rising sea levels and temperatures caused by climate change, increases the likelihood of death, flooding and a loss of food sources, scientists say.

  • It also destroys the ocean’s biodiversity.
  • Oceans produce half of all the world’s oxygen and absorb 31% of human-produced carbon dioxide.

Background: Over 100 countries have joined a pact to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030.

  • Less than 8% of the world’s oceans are protected areas, according to the Marine Conservation Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Seattle.

Details: Duque made the announcement during the United Nations Ocean Conference in Portugal on Monday.

  • It includes the creation of four new protected marine areas at the UN conference. Almost a third of its oceans will now have preservation measures, and extractive activities will be forbidden in many areas.

The big picture: Nine countries with Pacific coasts — the U.S., Mexico, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Canada, Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia — signed a declaration at the Summit of the Americas this month promising to work faster toward protecting ocean areas and to collaborate more.

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