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World Oceans Day: 6 Places Protecting their Oceans

The climate crisis is one of the greatest threats to the planet, and a healthy climate needs a healthy ocean. Celebrating World Oceans Day every year continues to put pressure on government and corporate leaders to stick to their climate promises. For this World Oceans Day we’re focusing on six places making real positive change in ocean conservation. 

Azores, Portugal

The Azores archipelago is a group of islands 1300 km off the coast of Portugal, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The people here are intrinsically linked to the ocean from the proud fishermen to the decades-old local surfing scene, yet only 5% of the ocean has current protected status. Blue Azores is an ocean conservation and sustainable management program with the aim of protecting 30% of the Azores Sea through marine protected areas. A great way to celebrate World Oceans Day if you are in the Azores is to take a responsible whale and dolphin viewing boat trip, Whale Watching Azores records all sightings and organizes regular beach clean ups and conservation efforts.

Papahānaumokuākea, Hawaii

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is not just the largest conservation area in the U.S., but also one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. It's bigger than all of America’s national parks combined! This incredible region protects many of Hawaii’s Northwestern Islands and includes hundreds of square miles of reefs, atolls, shallow waters, and deep seas.

The monument is home to a diverse range of habitats that support over 7,000 marine species, many of which can only be found here. It also provides a safe haven for rare and endangered species like the green sea turtle and the Hawaiian monk seal.

Palau

Paulau is often called one of the seven underwater wonders of the world. 340 coral and volcanic islands are surrounded by a barrier reef system in the Pacific Ocean. The nutrient-rich waters support ecosystems of mind-blowing biodiversity, teeming with sharks, turtles, dugongs, manta rays and tropical fish. The indigenous population has always protected the key species and habitats that support their food system. In 2015 Palau voted to establish the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, creating one of the largest protected ocean areas and meaning that 80% of Palau oceans are now protected.

Tofino

Tofino is a unique biosphere region supporting enormous amounts of wildlife on Vancouver Island in Canada. The community actively engages in protecting its marine biodiversity through various initiatives. Organizations like the Raincoast Education Society and the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust promote marine education and research. Efforts include monitoring marine wildlife, restoring habitats, and reducing plastic pollution. Tofino also emphasizes sustainable tourism and fishing practices to minimize human impact on the ocean. Conservation projects, such as protecting the critical habitats of orcas and sea otters, are some ways the community is protecting the environment for future generations.

Costa Rica

The government of Costa Rica led by example in 2021 when they increased their protected ocean area from 2.7% to 30% putting them 9 years ahead of a global deadline to protect nearly a third of the plant’s land and ocean. Extending the reach of the protected areas will mean many critical migratory species are assured safe passage through the waters. There are also many non-profits in Costa Rica with ocean conservation at their heart. Many offer internships and volunteering opportunities, meaning they score highly for sustainable travel.

Haida gwaii

Haida Gwaii is an archipelago of 150 islands off the coast of British Columbia and is often seen as a beacon of ocean protection. The islands are home to the Haida Nation, ancestors of the indigenous population. In partnership with the Canadian government the Haida Nation has established numerous initiatives that safeguard the region's marine ecosystems. These efforts include regulating fishing practices, monitoring marine life, and restoring habitats. They reflect the Haida people’s deep connection to the oceans and their commitment to maintain its health for future generations.

Norway

Norway is a leader in sustainable fishing policies and emphasizes strict quotas, advanced monitoring, and innovative technologies to ensure fish stocks remain healthy. The country collaborates with scientists and international bodies to manage fisheries effectively, reducing bycatch and protecting marine ecosystems, setting a global standard for responsible and sustainable fishing practices.

Long Story Short...

World Oceans Day highlights the efforts of these places, dedicated to protecting their oceans. From the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to the collaborative conservation work in Haida Gwaii, these regions exemplify the importance of ocean conservation. These efforts, as well as initiatives like Worlds Oceans Day inspire collective action to ensure healthy and thriving marine ecosystems for future generations.

 

Written by Laura Sedlak