G20 SeaStates 2018
Of the 19 G20 countries, only 6 have protected more than 1% of their oceans in strongly protected reserves. The United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) lead the pack of front runners, with a full 23.3% and 23.1% of their respective marine estates fully protected. With a comprehensive marine park network coming into force this past July 2018 after six years of limbo, Australia ranks in third place with 9.2% of its entire marine estate within no-take reserves. In fourth place, Mexico has strongly protected about 4.7% of its marine area with 21.9% falling within all forms of marine protected areas. Brazil follows behind with 3.3% of its ocean in strong reserves, with a significant contribution from no-take zones within the two new massive Environmental Protection Areas of Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo and Trinidade e Martim Vaz. In sixth place, France strongly protects about 1.5% of its vast marine estate. The remaining G20 group members have fully protected less than 1% of their oceans, including the whole European Union* with a miniscule 0.02% safeguarded within strongly protected reserves.
A concerning trend, the designation of large, remote areas makes up the entirety of the strong marine protection for the leading G20 countries (Figure 3). For example, the United Kingdom has only a handful of small no-take areas in surrounding waters, with the vast majority of their no-take area occurring in overseas territories. In fact, the UK, US, France, Brazil, and South Africa all have the greater part of their no-take reserves in remote waters far from centers of population. With most strongly protecting less than 1% of their heavily used home waters, these countries will need to improve protection there in order to ensure adequate protections across all ecosystems and habitats. Removing remote areas from the analysis, the top four countries for strongly protected marine areas in order are Australia, Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia.
There are rays of hope as many countries have recommitted to meeting conservation targets. South Africa just announced in late October 2018 that they will be designating 20 new MPAs in 2019, bringing protection to more than 5% of their marine estate.