It is a dark, stormy night in the South Atlantic. Coastal radar picks up a boat heading out towards the edge of a country’s 200-mile limit of jurisdiction. The on-board Automatic Identification System (AIS), required by authorities to track and monitor vessel movements, tells the watching coastguard that it is a Panamanian registered industrial trawler. As it approaches a no-take (meaning fishing is not allowed) Marine Protected Area (MPA), newly designated because of its sensitive bottom habitat, the ship’s AIS suddenly stops transmitting and the vessel goes “dark.” A call goes out to authorities responsible for fisheries protection and conservation. Commonly, a patrol vessel—if available—would be dispatched to see what the boat was doing, but this is at night, in a storm, off an exposed coast. Is there a problem with the AIS and the boat is just transiting over the MPA? Or is there an ulterior motive and the trawler has deployed its nets to scour the seafloor, destroying the habitat and nature protected by the MPA? A growing number of countries due to meet at the conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) later this year have pledged to protect and conserve at least 30 percent of the ocean in a movement dubbed “30 x 30”: 30 percent by 2030. Even with those commitments, how do we manage vast areas of ocean to ensure they are providing the protection and restoration so desperately needed for our future? The example above is hypothetical. If the boat’s goal turns…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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