In July of 1997 Dr. Jane Lubchenco, in her address as president of American Association for the Advancement of Science , proposed the idea that to properly preserve the world's living ocean resources, by the year 2020 the world should have designated 20% of the world's oceans as protected. Link >
The idea quickly caught fire, being endorsed by 400 scientists that year, and then by over 1600 scientists the following year in a statement titled, "Troubled Waters: A Call for Action," which was part of the United Nations International Year of the Ocean.
It is a simple concept, good for mass communications, but the source of much headache-ness for the poor scientists left holding the bag and dealing with such a simple, single number. A number of variations upon the theme have arisen.
In 2003 Dr. Sylvia Earle at the " Defying Ocean 's End" conference in Mexico called for protection of "12% by 2013."
Do we hear 5% by 2008? How about 2% by next year?
And World Wildlife Fund on their South Africa website calls for the same 20% protection world wide, but . their U.S. website halves that by calling for only 10% by 2020.
Let's just say there is 100% agreement in the ocean conservation community that some of the ocean needs to be protected someday.