Coastal Bend environmentalist react to World's ocean treaty

Posted at 7:25 PM, Mar 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 20:32:17-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Over the weekend, United Nations diplomats from nearly 200 nations agreed on a treaty that protects large parts of the Earth's oceans.

This comes as a victory, one celebrated by many in the Coastal Bend. 

“People are finally noticing the amount of debris that’s in our oceans and how it can be impacted,” Jace Tunnell, Reserve Director at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute said. 

During the decade of debate over funding and fishing rights. The high seas remained vulnerable to chemical and plastic pollution, overfishing and other threats. 

Tunnell said the Gulf of Mexico has seen it all. 

“Some of the bad things that we find that we really don’t want out on the beach are fishing nets,” Tunnell said. “We call those ghost fishing because even though they’re out on the beach they can still get animals stuck in them.”

With the high seas making up almost half of the earth's surface, experts said there’s a lot of destruction going on. It’s estimated 90 percent of the big fish are gone. 

Quinn Hendrick with the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program tells us putting policy in place to protect marine wildlife has already been done at a local level, but the treaty can help spread awareness of similar issues that are happening closer to home.

Tunnell agrees. 

“Ultimately and what this treaty is going to do and what we push for in the Coastal Bend is clean oceans, so the next generation doesn’t have to deal with this trash problem,” Tunnell said. 

Tunnell said people in the Coastal Bend should be open to positive change. 

Whether you’re with industry, industry that’s oil and gas, fishing industry or tourism. Everyone wants to see a clean ocean,” Tunnell said. 

Once countries formally adopt the agreement, work can begin to protect the deep blue sea. 

For now, Coastal Bend initiatives in the Gulf of Mexico will continue.