Protecting the world’s valuable marine ecosystems

Protecting large, important sections of our environment on land is nothing new, but when it comes to protecting the oceans we’ve got a long way to go.  In the last fifty years, 90% of the world’s largest oceanic fish have disappeared due to overfishing. More than 80% of life on earth lives in our oceans. But less than 1% of our oceans are protected.

To reverse the drastic decline of global fish stocks and protect marine biodiversity we need to urgently create a global network of marine reserves. Marine reserves provide a safe haven from industrial fishing practices, mining, drilling, waste disposal and other destructive activities.  The beauty of marine reserves is they rejuvenate the protected area, as well as surrounding areas, providing richer fishing grounds and more robust ecosystems, find out more.

A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates what we at Greenpeace have been saying for a long time: a large-scale network of marine reserves could be the key to restoring the health of our oceans. Globally, Greenpeace is calling for a network of highly protected marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans – this includes in international waters, in the Pacific, in Australia and around Antarctica. 

International Waters

International waters – areas falling outside of national boundaries, known as the high seas – are currently a virtual free-for-all. We need global cooperation and ultimately a set of new international laws to protect these vulnerable areas.  Greenpeace is working towards this outcome by campaigning for legal frameworks at the UN, taking action at sea and highlighting key areas of the last remaining global commons, the high seas, that are under threat. Find out more

The Pacific Commons

The island nations of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean are home to the world’s richest tuna stocks and some of the most productive fisheries in the world.  The sea is the lifeblood for these Pacific Island nations.  But these bountiful waters, and the food security of the region’s inhabitants, are under threat from excessive, destructive and often illegal fishing by distant nations.  While these countries are working hard to manage their national waters, lawless high seas pockets between the countries remain open to excessive and destructive fishing and are a haven for pirate fishers.  Greenpeace has been taking action at sea and working with Pacific nations to close the high seas pockets to destructive fishing practices and provide the framework to establish marine reserves. Find out more


Australia has the third largest, and what is thought to be the most biodiverse, marine territory in the world.  Yet very little of it is protected from the worst excesses of commercial fishing or oil, gas and mineral mining.  Greenpeace is working with some inspiring coalitions of Australian and international organisations to protect the most valuable and at-risk areas remain productive and rich-with-life for future generations.  We urge all Australians to add their voice.

Save our tropical sea life Save our tropical sea life is working to protect key zones in Australia’s spectacular and unique North and North-West.  The tropical waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Top End, Kimberley, Pilbara and Ningaloo are home to endangered sea turtles, vulnerable dugong, rare snubfin dolphins and migratory humpback whales. Current regional planning leaves these areas wide-open to trawling, dredging, oil and gas drilling and mining.  Less than 1% of these vast waters are effectively protected - ugly industrialisation is the fate Australia's northern seas    are facing unless we act now.

Protect our coral sea Over 55, 000 Australians have pledged their support for the Protect Our Coral Sea coalition. The Coral Sea is a tropical marine jewel which lies east of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It’s one of the last places on Earth where large marine animals can still be found in great numbers and is a crucial haven for biodiversity.If the whole of the Coral Sea was fully protected, this new Coral Sea Marine Park would be the world’s largest marine park, and would make an unparalleled contribution to global marine conservation.

 New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) - pup. Neptune Islands, South Australia. Classified Low Risk on the IUCN Red List.Another 45,000 Australians have come together to call for the protection of a less well-known but no less remarkable marine treasure on our South West coast.  Save our Marine Life is fighting for an area, from Eucla to Kalbarri in WA, that is home to a far greater level of unique marine life even than the Great Barrier Reef. Thousands of species of fish, seabirds, sharks, dolphins, turtles, seals, shellfish and whales - including blue whales - live, breed and feed in these waters. This is a region in which 90% of the local species are found nowhere else on earth and new species are being discovered almost every week - a truly extraordinary region.


Antarctic Ocean AllianceAntartic Ocean Alliance protects the oceans around Antarctica, the only waters on this earth still relatively untouched by human activity. They are home to almost 10,000 unique and diverse species, many of which cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. But today the Antarctic waters are under threat. Having drilled and fished out the most accessible areas of the world’s ocean, industries are turning their eyes south bringing with them the most destructive fishing methods and high-risk oil and gas exploration.  Greenpeace is proud to member of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance – show your support to ensure Antarctic Ocean habitats and wildlife are protected from human interference.