Governments have heeded the warning somewhat
To some degree, governments have heeded the warning. Former President George W. Bush created two large MPAs in the Pacific at the end of his tenure. Island nations in the Pacific and Caribbean, among others, have also established MPAs in recent years. California is creating an MPA network that may, when complete, protect some 20 percent of state waters. Currently, just 0.7 percent of the world’s oceans enjoy even nominal protection, a far cry from the “20 to 30 percent protected by 2012” goal declared at the fifth World Parks Congress in 2003. Yearly, protected ocean increases by about 5 percent.
Already, scientists are observing shifts in species distribution around the world. After an 800,000-year absence, a species of Pacific diatom, a shell-encased alga, has recently appeared in the North Atlantic. Scientists are unsure of its impact, but they take its arrival as evidence that certain conditions absent for nearly a million years – lack of sea ice, prevailing winds – are reemerging.
Northern countries like Norway and Iceland have seen an influx of more southerly fish species. They’re not complaining, because they’re likely to catch more fish. Blue mussels, once found only as far north as Norway’s coast, meanwhile, have colonized the Svalbard archipelago, more than 400 miles from Scandinavia.