Gillian Anderson pens powerful op-ed urging governments to protect oceans

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Gillian Anderson has written an impassioned op-ed for the Guardian urging governments to set aside “geopolitical differences and commercial gain” and act in the interests of future generations to protect our oceans. 

Anderson — who stars in Netflix’s Sex Education — wrote that the UK government should “step up and show global leadership” when negotiating the first draft text of a global ocean treaty at the U.N. in New York. 

“Our oceans and the life they sustain are under mounting pressure from multiple threats, including overfishing, climate breakdown, oil drilling and plastic pollution. Quite simply, they are in crisis,” she wrote. 

Anderson explained that as an advocate for marine conservation, she backed Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign, which proposed the creation of a 695,000-square-mile ocean sanctuary in the Weddell Sea that would have protected whales, penguins, seals among other marine species. 

“It would have made these pristine waters off-limits to oil exploration and the fishing industry,” she wrote. “Sadly, this historic opportunity was lost when members of the Antarctic Ocean commission from China, Norway and Russia derailed the process and blocked the proposal.”

Anderson wrote that despite this defeat, the fight is far from over. On Monday, negotiations will begin over the first draft of a global ocean treaty concerning an expanse of sea that covers nearly half the Earth’s surface. 

“If they get it wrong the treaty could entrench many of the worst practices that are impacting our oceans,” Anderson warned. “But if they get it right the treaty could pave the way for the creation of a network of ocean sanctuaries, making 30 percent of our marine world off-limits to human activity.”

“The science is clear. Oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, which is killing coral reefs and other fragile ecosystems,” she added. 

Anderson wrote that governments need to place conservation and sustainability at the centre of ocean governance. 

“We have a historic opportunity to strengthen ocean protection for decades to come,” wrote Anderson. “What happens in New York this month will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.”

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