The UK has backed calls to safeguard 30% of the world’s seas as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2030.
Currently, less than 4% of the world’s seas are designated as MPAs, which protects seas, oceans or large lakes from damaging industries and pollution.
In the UK, 200,000 square miles of coastline is already protected with 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) proposed.
MCZs are specific to the UK and are designated with the aim to protect nationally important, rare or threatened habitats and species.
The proposed new MCZs span more than 12,000 square kilometres, protecting species such as the short-snouted seahorse, stalked jellyfish and peacock’s tail seaweed.
‘Protection of our oceans is a global challenge which requires global action,’ said Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
‘The UK has already safeguarded vast swathes of precious marine habitats, but we must go further,
‘Only by working together can we protect our shared home and ensure our marine life continues to be a source of awe and wonder for future generations,’ he added.
The United Nations General Assembly are meeting in New York this week to discuss how to best protect the oceans from industry and pollution.
Currently, global targets for marine protected areas are set by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, with parties agreeing to protect 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.
The UK will join almost 200 other countries in November in Egypt to begin negotiations on a new global target which is expected to treble the current figure to 30% by 2030.
In April, the UK government announced a £61.4m package of funding which it hopes will aid global research and help countries across the Commonwealth stop plastic waste from entering oceans.