Lewis Pugh — swimmer and UN Environment Patron for the Oceans — will swim in freezing waters with the aim of calling on "world leaders to protect the Antarctic area the size of Australia from overfishing and exploitation."
"We have entered a new era of uncertainty, with many hard-fought conservation achievements now under threat. It's time to build on our recent success in the Ross Sea. With public support, I believe we can achieve the most ambitious ocean protection plan in history," Pugh was quoted as saying as he spoke from Antarctica Bellingshausen Sea, the area where he will swim.
Pugh's act coincides with the Convention on Biological Diversity taking place in Mexico, which — according to a UN report — urged the world to "protect at least 10 percent of its coastal and marine areas by 2020."
As the same report pointed out, the international community expanded the scale of marine protected areas (MPAs) — mainly oceans and seas — from five percent to 12.7 percent in April.
Five "mega MPAs" have been created and extended to cover Chile, Palau, Hawaii, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena's in the South Atlantic.
"The establishment of so many new protected areas is tremendous news and should give those fighting tirelessly to conserve the world's oceans and seas an enormous sense of achievement," the head of the UN Environment Programme, Erik Solheim, stated.
"But we must remember that the Aichi Biodiversity Targets also call for countries to focus their conservation efforts on the areas of greatest biodiversity. It is not just about size of the area under protection but also about where these zones are located and how strong that protection really is."