Protecting oceans vital in warming fight

Governments seeking to stop global warming must give a higher priority to protecting marine ecosystems, scientists said Sunday in Washington.

Meeting at the International Marine Conservation Congress, the scientists stressed that because the oceans act as a vital carbon sink absorbing much of the ever-increasing supply of carbon emissions, maintaining their health is a prerequisite for battling climate change, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a Swiss environmental group, said in a release.

“The world’s governments must recognize the potential within the oceans to reduce carbon emissions,” said Carl Gustaf Lundin, head of the IUCN’s Global Marine Program. “It’s a travesty that marine issues aren’t on the agenda of the U.N. Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen in December.”

Lundin said that he stressed during the Congress the importance of “marine protected areas” — areas where governments restrict fishing and other human activities — saying, “The role of MPAs in reducing the impact of overfishing and other stress factors on the marine environment cannot be overstated. A stronger network of MPAs would mean that oceans are in a better position to survive and thrive despite the impacts of global warming.”