Oceans In Peril - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1803467

Oceans In Peril

You may have heard the phrase “30 x 30” before, but what does it signify? It’s pretty simple, really, but vitally important.

The objective of the 30 x 30 movement is to conserve 30 percent of the earth’s water and land by 2030. Setting aside 30 percent of our most precious resources will ensure that our planet has a healthy, livable future.

Those of us who live on the East End must fully support this effort to preserve both the recreation and natural habitat the ocean affords us and its importance as an economic engine.

In the last few decades, two-thirds of the world’s wetlands and half of its rain forests have been destroyed. The oceans are suffering from pollution, over-fishing and climate change. We have lost thousands of species of plants, insects, fish, birds and mammals due to loss of habitat and pollution of their life-sustaining resources. It’s time to make massive changes in our thinking about the future.

In the oceans, marine protected areas are the most effective tool we have for preserving ecosystems. These strong protections — the ocean’s equivalent of a national park — provide safe havens where ocean life can recover and thrive without additional pressures from extractive practices like commercial fishing and oil/gas drilling. They are what’s needed to help ecosystems withstand and recover from destructive human activities and adapt to climate change.

On the East End, land conservation has strong support. Suffolk County has already preserved two-thirds of its farmland, some 20,000 acres. Funding for this has come from a variety of county, town and nonprofit farmland preservation efforts — but polluted waters continue to be a challenge. In 2019, the New York Public Interest Group published a study stating that Long Island has the most contaminated drinking water in New York State.

What can we do locally? Learn more about MPAs and the potential for the East End. While the largest protected areas are located in the remote Pacific, there are approximately 1,000 MPAs, located throughout the United States, covering about 26 percent of U.S. waters. They include coastal as well as ocean habitats and promote recreation.

The many conservation groups, civic associations, garden clubs and individuals who are working hard to improve their local environments can help the 30 x 30 movement reach its goal. Start by writing letters to your local and national officials, by speaking up at town meetings, by discussing these issues with your family, friends and neighbors

Preserving 30 percent of the planet is a realistic goal that can be reached by 2030. We need to educate ourselves and spread the word, then support those elected officials who are doing are sponsoring bills that will move us toward that goal.

Marissa Bridge

Joy Flynn

Conservation Committee

Westhampton Garden Club