UBC prof says we aren’t meeting our goals of protecting biodiversity
In 2010, the international community adopted the Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity, agreeing to meet 20 targets to protect the diversity of animals, fish, plants and their habitats by 2020. As we near the midpoint to 2020, UBC professor Villy Christensen, co-author of the report “A mid-term analysis of progress toward international biodiversity targets” published today in Science, explains whether we can achieve those goals.
Will we meet the 2020 biodiversity targets?
Nearly 200 countries are part of the convention so there is a strong international commitment, yet we’re not on track to meet the targets by 2020. There are lots of positive signs about how the international community is reacting and we’re starting to trend in the right direction. Last week Barack Obama announced plans to create the world’s largest ocean reserve. We’ve also seen the creation of the Marine Stewardship Council that certifies sustainably harvested fish.
Species are still going extinct and habitat is being destroyed. But at least we’re starting to see a large number of actions, and pressure on biodiversity has been decreasing in a number of cases – which is more than we can say about our efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Your research focuses on ocean health. How are we protecting our oceans?
Fishing is the biggest threat to the oceans. We haven’t seen an increase in marine catches in the last 20 to 30 years but fishing efforts have increased substantially. People are working more and investing more, but the return is not going up. Pressure on resources is increasing.
We need a reduction in fishing fleets; we have to protect marine resources. Globally we have way too many boats and that’s the biggest problem.
What’s the single most important thing we can do to protect fish?
Apart from reducing fishing effort in general, we’re working toward a ban to end fishing in the deep sea. Right now it’s a free-for-all in international waters. There are fragile resources in the deep sea like extremely long-living fish, which should be protected. They can be fished out in few years; it is happening, and it will take centuries to rebuild them.
Related link: Report supports shutdown of all high seas fisheries