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By , Staff writer / October 25, 2012.

Efforts to set aside conservation zones in the world’s oceans are picking up steam, putting countries on a path to reach an international goal of setting aside 10 percent of coastal and marine waters as marine-protected areas by 2020.

That’s the assessment of a report prepared by the Nature Conservancy and unveiled this month at a UN biodiversity conference in Hyderabad, India.

Marine-protected areas, or MPAs, generally are designed as free-swim zones for a wide range of ocean life, giving them havens to reproduce and grow without pressure from fishing or other ecologically disruptive human activities.

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