Pew Charitable Trust Global Ocean Legacy Project, Seth Horstmeyer, Director
Seth Horstmeyer oversees operations for Pew’s efforts to create large, highly protected marine reserves, focusing on projects in Australia, Easter Island, New Zealand, and Palau.Global Ocean Legacy is working to establish the world’s first generation of great marine parks by securing the designation of large, fully protected reserves. To date, these efforts have helped to double the amount of ocean habitat that is safeguarded worldwide.
Horstmeyer joined Pew in 2008 and has assumed many roles within the environment team. He was director of the initiative to reform industrial animal agriculture. Before that, he served as a senior officer responsible for overseeing domestic field operations and advocacy in more than 30 states. During that time, he also served as director of Pew’s Law of the Sea project. In that position, he worked with American businesses and national security interests to create the American Sovereignty Campaign to encourage the U.S. Senate to approve an international treaty governing activities on the high seas. Before coming to Pew, Horstmeyer spent more than six years with the National Environmental Trust.
Prior to that, he worked for the Environmental Investigation Agency, an international nonprofit organization that investigates and exposes environmental offenses. Horstmeyer holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Miami University.
Turning the Tide on Deep Sea Destruction – Italian
Global Ocean Legacy Project
The ocean covers nearly three-fourths of the globe and is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s known species, with countless yet to be discovered. The ocean helps support more than 250 million people who depend directly or indirectly on fishing for their livelihoods, and provides the main source of animal protein to more than 2.6 billion people.
The ocean plays an essential role in sustaining life on our planet, but human activities are increasingly threatening its health. Research shows that very large, fully protected marine reserves are key to rebuilding species abundance and diversity and protecting the overall health of the marine environment.
Global Ocean Legacy, a project of Pew and its partners, is working with local communities, governments and scientists around the world to protect and conserve some of our most important and unspoiled ocean environments.
Together we are establishing the world’s first generation of great marine parks by securing the designation of large, fully protected reserves. To date, our efforts have helped to double the amount of safeguarded ocean habitat worldwide.
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Global Ocean Legacy First Generation of Marine Parks
Announced: Kermadec, New Zealand: The Kermadec region is significant to New Zealand and the world, providing an important safe haven for threatened species and an underwater frontier that scientists are only now beginning to explore. In September 2015, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced the government’s commitment to create a 620,000-square-kilometer ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, constituting one of the largest fully protected areas of ocean in the world. Pew and its partners have advocated for establishment of this sanctuary to safeguard critical species and support healthy ecosystems in the region for generations to come.
Announced, Pitcarin Islands: In March 2015, the British government announced its intent to create the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the waters surrounding the Pitcairn Islands. A small U.K. overseas territory in the remote central South Pacific Ocean, Pitcairn has one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world. Within these waters lies one of the best-preserved ecosystems—a complex community of hard and soft corals that are home to hundreds of species of fish, including two found nowhere else on Earth. Pew, on behalf of the Global Ocean Legacy campaign partners, is working with the British government and the Pitcairn Island community to implement the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve and protect this important marine habitat for generations to come.
Active, French Polynesia (Tahiti): The waters around French Polynesia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific Ocean, comprise the world’s largest contiguous exclusive economic zone. At 5 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles), the territory’s waters span an area as large as the landmass of the European Union. These vast and healthy waters are home to 21 species of sharks and an exceptional coral reef system that supports 176 coral and 1,024 fish species. Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy team was invited by the mayors and local communities of the Austral Islands, one of the five archipelagos that make up French Polynesia, to collaborate on efforts to designate a large-scale marine reserve in their waters.
Active, New Caledonia: New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific Ocean, is home to an incredible array of marine life, including more than 1,700 species of fish and 473 species of coral. The waters of the territory’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) span 1.3 million square kilometers (501,932 square miles), within which lies one of the world’s largest lagoons. In April 2014, New Caledonia created the Coral Sea Natural Park, which includes the entire EEZ. A government committee is developing a management plan that will define the regions of the park, how they will be used, and their levels of protection.
Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy team is pleased to have been invited by the government to join the park management committee. Other members include representatives from the government, local institutions, environmental organizations, local communities, international and local nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector. Pew is advocating for at least one vast, highly protected marine reserve to be included in the Coral Sea Natural Park. Within that area, fishing and other extractive activities would be prohibited.
Active, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are situated more than 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) from the southern tip of South America in a remote expanse of the South Atlantic Ocean. While mostly uninhabited by humans, the area hosts what could be the single largest concentration of marine species in the world. In the past, the wildlife of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands was seriously depleted by over exploitation. Pew and its partners are exploring the feasibility of enhancing marine protections in the waters around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
Active, Tristan da Cunha: The waters of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago are vast, covering an area about three times the size of the U.K. mainland. They are relatively unspoiled and vitally important for a wide range of fish, birds, whales, and seals. The remote location of this British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean—about 2,400 kilometers east of South Africa—means that a large number of these species are found nowhere else on Earth.
Tristan’s waters are the feeding ground for the Tristan and Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross, as well the critically endangered spectacled petrel. This petrel’s population has dropped to just 10,000 breeding pairs, all living on the archipelago’s aptly named Inaccessible Island. Tristan’s islands are home to 80 percent of the sub-Antarctic fur seal population and important populations of southern elephant seals. Nearly all of the world’s northern rockhopper penguins live here. Pew continues to explore ways to protect the marine environment of Tristan da Cunha while supporting community needs.
Designated, Chagos, Indian Ocean: The Chagos Archipelago and its surrounding waters are one of the most remote and unspoiled marine areas remaining on Earth. Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean (PDF), Chagos is comprised of 55 islands and vast coral reefs. The waters surrounding these islands are some of the world’s healthiest. They serve as a refuge and breeding ground for large, critically important marine species such as sharks, dolphins, and green and hawksbill turtles.
The waters of the Chagos contain up to half of the healthy reefs in the Indian Ocean, making them one of the most ecologically sound reef systems on the planet. Teeming with life and functioning as an important nursery for fish and corals, they enrich and replenish the whole ocean with the ecological goods and services on which millions of people rely. Through the Chagos Environment Network’s Protect Chagos campaign, Global Ocean Legacy is collaborating with eight leading conservation and scientific organizations to protect the rich biodiversity of the Chagos Islands and its surrounding waters.
Watch a short video about the Chagos unique marine life.
Designated, Coral Sea: Australia’s Coral Sea, located east of the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef, made history in 2012 following its designation as the world’s second-largest highly protected marine reserve. At 502,238 square kilometers (193,915 square miles), the Coral Sea Marine National Park safeguards critically important marine life such as whales, sea turtles, sharks, and coral reefs.
The Australian government is currently reviewing the protective zoning for the Coral Sea Marine National Park and the other marine parks that form its recently established national network of marine parks. As the world’s first and largest national network of its kind, Australia has contributed significantly to global ocean conservation. We are working with the government, stakeholders, and the public to ensure that these parks are protected as promised.
Designated, Hawaii: When the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was established in 2006, it was the largest highly protected marine reserve in the world at 140,000 square miles (363,000 square kilometers). Creation of the monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands received bipartisan support in the United States and was followed by the designation of more than a dozen large-scale marine parks around the world, nine larger than this initial effort. As a result, nearly 2 percent of the world’s oceans are set aside with strong protections. Although this is important progress, scientists recommend protecting at least 30 percent.
In 2016, Native Hawaiians asked Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy project to join their efforts to advocate for expansion of Papahānaumokuākea. Enlarging the monument would help reach global conservation targets while protecting important ecosystems and wildlife in the Pacific Ocean.
Designated, Marianas: In January 2009, President George W. Bush established by proclamation the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, made up of three sections: the Volcanic and Trench units, plus the Islands Unit, which consists of 16,405 square miles of highly protected waters and submerged land in the western Pacific Ocean. The monument is located in the Mariana Archipelago, about 1,400 miles south of Japan.
The waters are home to rare beaked whales, dolphins, and colorful deep-water fish. More than two dozen species of seabirds inhabit the area, along with several species of endangered or threatened sea turtles, a variety of marine mammals, and giant coconut crabs, the largest land-living arthropod. At more than 36,000 feet, the Marianas Trench is the deepest place on Earth.
In 2008, Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy project joined efforts by residents of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth, to help safeguard the area, which then became the second major marine monument designated in the United States. Today, GOL continues to work with islanders to improve protections for this unique biological and geological hot spot.
Designated, Pacific Remote Islands: On September 24, 2014, the administration of President Barack Obama announced it would expand protections for the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The president extended the boundaries around three of the monument’s five marine reserves—Johnston Atoll, Wake Atoll, and Jarvis Island—from the area 50 miles from shore, designated by President George W. Bush in 2009, to 200 miles from shore.
Taken together, the expanded protections for the waters around these atolls and islands—which are not contiguous—provide approximately an additional 408,000 square miles (approximately 1,050,000 square kilometers) to the monument. With this announcement, the amount of U.S. ocean territory highly protected has more than doubled, from about 6 percent to 15 percent.
Research shows that highly protected marine reserves are essential to rebuilding the abundance and diversity of ocean species and increasing the resilience of habitats and ecosystems to climate change. Healthy oceans also have a greater ability to sequester carbon dioxide and generate oxygen.
The Pew Charitable Trusts worked with scientists, stakeholders, and the public to ensure that the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument received the additional protection it deserved.
Designated, Palau: Palau, located in the western Pacific Ocean, is world renowned for its healthy and incredibly diverse marine ecosystem. Home to more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral, the Micronesian island nation has been called one of the seven underwater wonders of the world. The nutrient-rich waters are teeming with sharks, turtles, manta rays, dugongs and tropical fish.
The president of Palau requested technical support from Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy project to help create the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, which at 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers), is one of the largest fully protected areas in the world. With creation of the sanctuary, Palau has set aside a higher percentage of its marine zone for full protection than any other country in the world.