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How countries are using innovative technologies to preserve ocean life

Vast oceans cover 70% of our planet’s surface, playing a crucial role in human survival by providing food and oxygen and acting as a buffer against climate change. Despite their importance, the oceans are increasingly threatened by global warming and human activity, with rising temperatures impacting the fragile marine ecosystems.

More than 100 countries, including the United States, have agreed to protect 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030, in an initiative known as “30 by 30.” This goal involves the creation of marine protected areas, or MPAs, where human activities are limited or prohibited in order to preserve marine life.

In the Bahamas, all waters are considered a shark sanctuary. In addition to this, the island nation has also designated numerous marine protected areas, all considered to contribute to the recovery of biodiversity. shark populationswhich are essential to the health of coral reefs.

Many of these areas are part of an ongoing global shark census called FinPrint. In 2018, this study revealed a 63% decline in the five main species of reef sharkswith overfishing and the shark meat industry being partly to blame.

Candace Fields is working with FinPrint and using innovative technology to collect new data to see if these protected areas are helping reef shark populations rebound.

“These MPAs could be the way to help these sharks get a little out of the hole,” she said.

There are more than 18,000 MPAs covering around 8% of the ocean surface, according to United Nations data. However, conservation groups say most are just lines on a map, because about two-thirds of them have little or no enforcement.

The Bahamas has strictly enforced no-fishing zones and actively patrols its waters with the Royal Bahamas Defense Force. During patrols, authorities ensure compliance with local laws, thereby discouraging illegal fishing activities, particularly those from foreign vessels. Their rigorous approach draws on cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence and vessel tracking.

“We’re here 24/7 and if you come, we’ll catch you,” said Commander William Sturrup, who oversees many operations.

“We are on the front lines as an army. This shows how important it is for our government to protect our marine resources,” he said.

Technology plays an important role in these efforts, according to Gregg Casad of WildAid, who illustrated the advanced tools used to monitor and protect the ocean.

“It’s a big part of the ocean, right? So we’re using this technology to help focus those patrol efforts,” Casad said.

As the world grapples with global warming, oceans play a critical role in regulating Earth’s temperature by absorbing 90% of the excess heat generated by climate change. Their protection is not only essential for marine biodiversity, but also to mitigate wider environmental impacts.

“There are tons and tons of reasons why we should work to keep the oceans as healthy as possible,” Fields said.

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