Saturday, February 23, 2013

Commission aims to draw attention to deteriorating oceans

Yojana Sharma in The Global Ocean Commission, a new independent body of politicians, businessmen, development experts and scientists, will meet for the first time next month, in Cape Town, South Africa, to start work on proposing the sustainable use of the oceans' natural resources.

The commission will analyse the major threats to the high seas that are beyond national jurisdictions or over 200 nautical miles from coastlines. Its findings will also aim to inform the first laws to protect ocean biodiversity, which the Rio+20 summit stipulated should be in place by 2014. The outcomes may also lead to a major overhaul of international laws governing the high seas, and better protection of biodiversity and the livelihoods of people in developing countries.

"This large proportion of the global ocean is under severe and increasing pressure from overfishing, damage to important habitat, climate change and ocean acidification," said a statement released at the commission's official launch in London last week (12 February).

The global ocean "is essential to the health and wellbeing of each and every one of us" said José Maria Figueres, former president of Costa Rica and co-chair of the commission alongside South African minister Trevor Manuel and UK minister David Miliband.

...About 75 per cent of world fish stocks are overfished, according to estimates. This unsustainable use threatens the livelihoods of the 200 million people who depend on fishing, 90 per cent of whom are in developing countries....

Fishing net in Togo, shot by Ferdinand Reus, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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