We are destroying the ocean’s ability to provide for us. Ninety percent of fish stocks are exploited to their limits, overexploited, or have collapsed. Short-term economic interests, weak fisheries management and enforcement, and a lack of urgency to create new protected areas have all contributed to this crisis. Yet, only 7 percent of the ocean has been designated or proposed as protected areas, and only 2.5 percent of the ocean is fully protected from fishing and other extractive activities. While a dramatic reform of fisheries management and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions would solve many of the problems facing the ocean, these measures would still be insufficient to halt the dramatic declines in ocean health we are currently experiencing.
The most powerful and cost-effective way to restore the health and productivity of the ocean, and the benefits it provides to people, is the creation of well-managed, no-take marine reserves that help restore ocean life, improve local livelihoods, and enhance our overall health and well-being. Marine reserves have been shown to be a highly effective means of conserving biodiversity and restoring and preserving overall ecosystem function, which is essential to increasing resilience against extreme events that are projected to happen more frequently and become more destructive due to climate change. In addition, marine reserves can also help to replenish local fisheries, especially those that have been overexploited.
Working with local partners and governments, National Geographic Pristine Seas has helped create 22 of the largest marine reserves in the world, covering a total area over half the size of the United States. Pristine Seas will scale its proven and effective model to help double the ocean area that is fully protected—to protect biodiversity and improve food security, carbon storage, and other key ecosystems for people worldwide.
About Our Team
The National Geographic Pristine Seas team is composed of scientists, explorers, economists, educators, filmmakers, communication strategists, operations specialists, and policy experts. Our team is an international combination of National Geographic staff and independent contractors, with members based in Washington D.C., California, Hawaii, Ecuador, Chile, Russia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Spain.
Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence
Vicki Phillips, Executive Vice President and Chief Education Officer, National Geographic Society
Kalee Kreider, Chief of Media and Public Affairs
Kirsten Weymouth, Senior Director, Communications, National Geographic Society, (703) 928-4995