GLORES: Transforming Marine Conservation

Written by on December 5, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law

There are thousands of marine protected areas (MPAs), but they cover less than three percent of the oceans. Many of them have such limited protection or enforcement that they offer almost no conservation benefits. Only one percent of the ocean is free from fishing and other extractive uses. MPAs are being recognized as one of the most promising ways to save the oceans, but they are being created at a slow rate and the oceans can’t wait.

Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Photo credit: Greg McFall, NOAA.

That’s why the Marine Conservation Institute announced the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES), a “comprehensive science-based strategy for advancing marine protected areas worldwide.”

Global Ocean Refuges are ecosystems that serve as safe havens for marine life. The goal is to gain protection for at least 20 percent of the ecosystems in each marine biogeographic region. This would be enough to save nearly all marine species from extinction, because animals living in the refuges would be able to repopulate other areas in the same region after being damaged by an oil spill, ocean acidification, or some other problem.

The goal is to have 10 percent of each region protected by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030. According to the Marine Conservation Institute, GLORES will accomplish this impressive feat by:

  1. Using a scientifically sound biogeographic framework for protecting ecosystems.
  2. Establishing clear, transparent criteria for the best locations, strong protection, effective management and credible enforcement to save species and their habitats from preventable harm.
  3. Fostering improved cooperation among nongovernmental advocacy organizations to achieve GLORES goals.
  4. Incentivizing competition among countries and international governmental organizations for the prestige and economic benefits of earning Global Ocean Refuge status for the best existing and new marine protected areas.

“Our world’s oceans are going to suffer mass extinction if we don’t act now to save them,” said Dr. Elliott Norse, founder of the Marine Conservation Institute, in a news release. “It is urgent that we mobilize the intelligence and resources of the world’s people and governments to protect our vital interests by establishing safe areas for marine life.”

To learn more about GLORES and MPAs, check out some of these links:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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