Published: Thu, June 08, 2017
Research | By Chelsea Rogers

Save the oceans to avert 'global catastrophe — United Nations chief

Save the oceans to avert 'global catastrophe — United Nations chief

As the Fiji hosted Ocean Conference gets underway in NY, the United Nations says it is expecting a surge in voluntary commitments to improve the health of the world's oceans.

"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.

But our oceans are in a critical condition and we will soon find more plastic than fish outside our coasts if we don't reverse the current trend.

United Nations member-states are working on a "call to action" to be signed by countries who commit to taking steps to clean up the oceans and work to preserve what is arguably the Earth's most important resource. The seas were in a state of crisis because of the pollution, global warming and overfishing, the Secretary General warned, pointing out that plastics dumped in the oceans threatened to outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050.

The conference has called for voluntary commitments to improve the health of the oceans, and the conference's spokesman Damian Cardona has said that at least 730 commitments had been made thus far.

Coinciding with the global World Oceans Day, the Ocean Conference designed an official program for discussion around creating policy that ultimately enhances the conservation and sustainable use of oceans.

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Top United Nations officials Monday urged coordinated global action to protect the planet when an worldwide conference on the health of the world's oceans and seas opened here.

As the worldwide community focuses this week on preserving the health of global oceans and seas, the United Nations agencies on agriculture, environment and trade are committing to the sustainable trade of fisheries. "Our planet, the human family and life in all its myriad forms on Earth are in the throes of a water crisis that will only get worse over the coming decades", he said.

"This work will help to make our oceans healthy, protect the livelihoods and economic activity that our oceans support, and end poverty", says Andrew Hudson, Head, Water and Ocean Governance Programme, UNDP.

"Canada is proud to stand with other nations to take action on the challenges facing our oceans such as illegal fishing, pollution, and ocean acidification".

Stressing the importance of all countries being part of the Paris agreement, Christian said in an apparent reference to Trump's decision: "While some may continue to deny man's culpability for the damaging effects of climate change on islands and man, no island, no village and no nation can deny that trash in our oceans is of man's own doing".

"We are committed to halting and reversing the decline in the health and productivity of our ocean", says the 3-page document, which also expresses alarm at the impact of climate change on the ocean.

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