The United Nations Oceans Conference (UNOC) concluded on July 1, 2022, in Lisbon after a full five days of discussions and events focused on achieving a shared goal: U.N. Sustainable Development Goal No. 14 (SDG14), which aims to protect life below water. SDG14 has been divided into 10 targets: reduce marine pollution; protect and restore ecosystems; reduce ocean acidification; ensure that fishing is done sustainably; conserve coastal and marine areas; end subsidies that contribute to harmful fishing practices; increase economic benefits from the sustainable use of marine resources; increase scientific knowledge, research and technology for ocean health; support small-scale fishers; and implement and enforce international law pertaining to the sea.
Participants registered nearly 700 commitments at the conference, according to organizers. Among them, many countries announced new protective measures within their exclusive economic zones (EEZs), areas of the ocean that extend 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from each nation’s coasts.
Other announcements included Guatemala’s pledge to create or expand eight MPAs to encompass 13% of the nation’s EEZ; Uruguay’s promise to expand an existing MPA in a whale and dolphin sanctuary; and Portugal’s move to expand its MPAs in the Azores Archipelago and Madeira.
A group of philanthropic organizations, including the Bezos Earth Fund and Bloomberg Philanthropies, committed to invest a total of $1 billion in ocean conservation efforts, including the creation of MPAs and other habitat protections, over the next eight years. This commitment is roughly equal to all philanthropic funding that has been dedicated to MPAs and habitat protection over the past decade, according to a statement by the organizations.
Thailand said it would stop issuing commercial fishing licenses to bottom trawlers. A coalition of NGOs unveiled a new atlas to track illegal trawling in protected regions of the Mediterranean. And Norway announced it would become the first European country to share its vessel-tracking data with Global Fishing Watch, a transparency platform.
Participants formed several new alliances at the UNOC, including an alliance of nations calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, a highly controversial activity in which mining companies would use industrial equipment to extract sought-after metals from the seafloor, potentially causing large-scale environmental harm.