Over 50% of the planet is covered in ocean, comprising the iconic Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic, also known as “the golden floating rainforest of the ocean”. Yet, human activities, over-fishing, pollution, ship traffic, seabed mining, and more, are resulting in vast and ominous threats to these life-giving natural resources. Only 2% of our life-giving seas are protected with over 50% of our oceans considered beyond national jurisdiction. This vital natural resource will die if there is no global plan to stop degradation. This represent the only goal of the Sargasso Sea Alliance (SSA).
Last night, SSA was recognized by The International SeaKeepers Society as “2013 International SeaKeepers of the Year,” an award given annually to those who have made exceptional contributions to the protection of world’s oceans. Past recipients include Prince Rainier of Monaco, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jean Michele Cousteau, and others.
SSA hopes this award will spread further awareness among governing bodies, dignitaries, influencers and citizenry worldwide about the urgent need to safeguard open sea ecosystems.
The timing is key since in early 2014, SSA will assist the government of Bermuda in hosting a meeting of many governments for the purpose of adopting a Declaration on the Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea, and seek to establish a permanent Sargasso Sea Commission.
Committee members who received the award included: David Evans Shaw, SSA founding chair and managing partner of BlackPoint Group; Dr. Richard Rockefeller, executive committee chair; Professor Howard Roe, science advisory committee chair and former director of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; Kristina Gjerde, High Seas policy advisor for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Dr. Derrick Binns, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Planning, Government of Bermuda; and Dr. David Freestone, SSA executive director. The International SeaKeepers Society honored the award recipients at the 2013 Bal de la Mer event held Monday evening in San Francisco.
“We believe that a protection declaration for the Sargasso Sea can become an island of hope, inspiration and exemplary stewardship in a vast sea of perilous complacency and ominous threats,” said David Shaw. “We are grateful to the many people, organizations and nations who are working hard on solutions, and to the SeaKeepers for giving ocean protection a hopeful voice.”
Since 2010, the Sargasso Sea Alliance, in collaboration with the government of Bermuda, has been mobilizing efforts to protect the Sargasso Sea, a unique two-million-square nautical mile ecosystem in the North Atlantic. Called by Dr. Sylvia Earle “the golden floating rainforest of the ocean,” the Sargasso Sea is named after the Sargassum (pelagic drift algae) that accumulates in the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre. It is the world’s only sea without coasts, and is a critical habitat for marine wildlife, including tuna, bill fish, eels, turtles, marlin and more, providing resting, feeding and breeding areas and migration paths for many species. Because of the lack of effective governance of high seas areas, the Sargasso Sea and other oceans beyond national jurisdiction are threatened by diverse human activities including over-fishing, pollution, ship traffic, and even harvesting of Sargassum. The efforts of the Sargasso Sea Alliance are aimed at providing protections similar to those afforded to key land preserves such as Yellowstone, the Serengeti, and others worldwide.
Below is a video provided by Sargasso Sea Alliance to learn more about the Sargasso Sea: