Top 15 Ocean Conservation Wins of 2015

Overfishing, climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution remain major threats to the world’s ocean. But amidst all that there is some seriously good ocean conservation news worth celebrating. So, to continue the tradition started last year with listing 14 Ocean Conservation Wins of 2014, here’s a rundown for 2015 that will hopefully fill you with #OceanOptimism. These wins represent the diligent efforts of organizations and individuals too numerous to list, so let’s just start with a blanket shoutout to all of #TeamOcean for a great year.

Marine reserve in Palau. (via Pew Charitable Trusts)

#1. Over 2 million km2 of ocean was protected in big new marine reserves. Marine reserves are areas completely closed to fishing, and 2015 saw more ocean protected in a single year than ever before. Chile created Desventuradas Marine Park (297,000 km2), and Easter Island Marine Park 631,000 km2). New Zealand created Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary (620,000 km2), Palau created Palau National Marine Sanctuary (500,000 km2), the UK announced the Pitcairn Island Reserve (833,000 km2), and protected areas are in the works for Patagonia. However, there is a broad consensus that 30% of the ocean should be fully protected in reserves, and these new designations only get us up to 1% – but we’ll take it!

1. marine reserve map - via National Geographic
Map of newly designated marine reserves. (via National Geographic)

#2. New technology is being developed to combat illegal fishing. Designating all these new reserves means little without enforcement, and we can’t enforce unless we know what’s happening out on the water. One big tech effort launched this year is Global Fishing —> Read More