First UN talks to save oceans kick off Monday

Delia Watkins
June 7, 2017

"Pollution, overfishing and the effects of climate change are severely damaging the health of our oceans", said Antonio Guterres, marking the start of the first-ever United Nations conference on the oceans and marine resources.

"Improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism, and we can not afford to fail", the Secretary-General said. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the first United Nations conference on oceans Monday with a warning that the seas are "under threat as never before", noting one recent study warns that discarded plastic garbage could outweigh fish by 2050 if nothing is done.

He called for an end to the "artificial dichotomy between economic demands and the health of our seas", and for strong political leadership, more funding, more study and more sharing of best practices and experiences.

"We are here on behalf of humanity to restore sustainability, balance and respect to our relationship with our primal mother, the source of life, the Ocean", he said.

However, taking stock of the day's proceedings, many insiders with knowledge of what is called the "fine print" of the draft of the "call to action", privately said that the US was "slow" in extending its support to the "pointed language" contained in the draft text, but they also emphasized that many were not inclined to exclude that language which they described as "fundamental" to highlighting the seriousness of the problems of the oceans and the climate change.

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The prince is also expected to visit Sydney Olympic Park, a key site of the 2000 Olympic Games, during his time in Australia. Speculation is mounting that Prince Harry is about to gatecrash the British and Irish Lions rugby tour of New Zealand.

Targets include protecting at least 10% of coastal and marine environments by 2020, reducing ocean pollution and strengthening ways to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

US President Donald Trump's recent decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord is also expected to be a hot topic at the talks.

"The time has come for us to correct our wrongful ways", said Mr. Thomson, who hails from the island of Fiji, which is co-hosting the event alongside Sweden. The surface waters are getting warmer.

Through these laws and measures, the government, more capable to monitor the land and sea areas situation, could respond to possible incidents in time.

Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba announced the creation of Africa's largest marine protected area, a network of nine marine parks and 11 aquatic reserves. Registered by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and its 37 member national shipowners' associations, the initiative seeks to minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification.

"Human activities have a major impact on the ocean, affecting everything from the viability of marine habitats and the quality and temperature of the water to the health of marine life and the continued availability of seafood", the United Nations organisers said.

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