Opinion

EDITORIAL-Time For Action To Protect Oceans From Further Degradation

It is widely recognised that the sustainability of our oceans as a food source is under serious threat because of pollution, indiscriminate dumping of rubbish, over-fishing and illegal fishing and
01 Jun 2017 08:23
EDITORIAL-Time For Action To Protect Oceans From Further Degradation
World Ocean Conference

It is widely recognised that the sustainability of our oceans as a food source is under serious threat because of pollution, indiscriminate dumping of rubbish, over-fishing and illegal fishing and the plundering of other marine resources.

They all contribute to the health and wellbeing of our oceans. As we continue the countdown to the United Nations World Ocean Conference in New York from June 5 to 9, we need to remind ourselves that this is a time for commitment and action.

Fiji is sending a sizeable contingent that includes representatives of civil society and our arts and music community. They will be there to raise the awareness that the world must act decisively and urgently to save and protect our oceans from human activities that pose a grave danger to it.

This is not a perceived threat. It is real and unless we all act now we could live to regret it later. As we continue the countdown to the conference,  it is incumbent upon us to lead by example as co-chair of the conference with Sweden.

We are already doing that with our Ocean Champion and Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau, leading the charge in cleaning the Suva foreshore.

Yesterday, the Minister for Forests Osea Naiqamu and his staff took to the foreshore to pick up rubbish and support Mr Koroilavesau’s initiative. The rest of the country should join in and clean up their foreshore. If we all do that it will make a big difference to our image and lend weight to our ocean campaign.

But more important is our commitment to not throw rubbish into our seas and rivers and waterways. Our clean green image and healthy oceans start  here.

If we do not dispose of plastics and other non-biodegradable items, we are helping our oceans  protect the vital food  sources that people rely on for their economic livelihood and sustenance.

We may be a group of small islands, but our contribution is vital to achieving the overall objective.

The campaign requires the support of all people because we are all stakeholders with a strong conviction that our oceans are critical to our future and common humanity. The fact that three quarters of our planet are covered by ocean water underscores the importance of preserving them.

Excerpts of a draft statement prepared as a build-up to the conference, which may end up as part of the core resolutions of the conference, aptly sums up the importance of oceans.

The ocean, the statement says “connects our populations and markets, and forms an important part of our natural and cultural heritage.”

“It supplies half the oxygen we breathe, absorbs a third of the carbon dioxide we produce, plays a vital role in the water cycle and the climate system, and is an important source of our planet’s biodiversity.

“It contributes to sustainable development and sustainable ocean-based economies, as well as to poverty eradication, food security and nutrition, maritime trade and transportation, decent work and livelihoods.

“We are particularly alarmed by the adverse impacts of climate change on the ocean, including the rise in ocean temperatures, ocean and coastal acidification, deoxygenation, sea-level rise, coastal erosion and extreme weather events.

“We acknowledge the need to address the adverse impacts, including cumulative impacts, that impair the crucial ability of the ocean to act as climate regulator, source of marine biodiversity, and as key provider of food and nutrition, tourism and ecosystem services, and as an engine for sustainable economic development and growth. We recognise, in this regard, the particular importance of the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“We are committed to halting and reversing the decline in the health and productivity of our ocean and its ecosystems and to protecting and restoring its resilience and ecological integrity. We recognise that the wellbeing of present and future generations is inextricably linked to the health and productivity of our ocean.”

The statement highlights the urgency of taking action.  Let’s start now.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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