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Big Wave of Support for Our Oceans

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and inheritor of Our Ocean legacy at the Our Ocean Conference, Blai, Indonesia, October 30, 2018 (Photo by Tekno Tempo.co) Posted for media use

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and inheritor of Our Ocean legacy at the Our Ocean Conference, Blai, Indonesia, October 30, 2018 (Photo by Tekno Tempo.co) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

NUSA DUA, Bali, Indonesia, October 30, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Financial contributions are rolling in to fund dozens of initiatives aimed at healing and protecting the oceans at the fifth annual Our Ocean Conference held on the Indonesian island of Bali October 29-30.

Our Ocean, Our Legacy is the theme of this year’s Our Ocean Conference, reflecting human choices and actions to maintain the sustainability of ocean resources and to preserve our ocean’s health as a heritage for future generations.

Opening the conference Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said his government has met its commitment of conserving 20 million hectares of territorial seas two years earlier than the projected date of 2020.

“We must be brave in making commitments and in undertaking concrete actions that start from each of us,” President Widodo said in his opening address.

He said Earth’s maritime resources are valued at an estimated US$24 trillion.

In recognizing the importance of oceans to many lives and the future of the Earth, the president listed the challenges – illegal unregulated and undocumented (IUU) fishing, piracy, human trafficking, drug smuggling, pollution and slavery.

Data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization shows about 26 million tons of fish worth US$10-23 billion have been caught illegally per year, Widodo said.

He worries that unless overlapping maritime claims are resolved through negotiations and based on international law, they may pose a threat to stability.

The president is concerned about ocean health. “Our ocean is threatened by plastic debris, water pollution, destruction of coral reefs, warming of sea temperature, the rise of sea-levels, and so forth,” he said.

“Do not be too late to take actions in protecting our ocean. One single country cannot resolve the challenges alone,” said Widodo. “All countries must collaborate in tackling the problems and in optimizing the benefits of the oceans for common good.”

The European Union made 23 new commitments at the conference, announcing €300 million of EU-funded initiatives. They include projects to tackle plastic pollution, make blue economy more sustainable and improve research and marine surveillance.

This contribution comes on top of the over €550 million committed by the European Union, when it hosted the Our Ocean conference last year in Malta.

“The state of our oceans calls for determined global action,” said High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini. “With 23 new commitments, the European Union stays engaged to ensure safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans.”

“No country can succeed alone in this endeavour,” said Mogherini. “It requires determination, consistency and partnerships, within and outside our European Union, and it is in this spirit that today we renew the commitment to protect our oceans.”

The European contributions include €100 million for R&D projects to tackle plastic pollution and €82 million for marine and maritime research, such as ecosystem assessments, seafloor mapping and innovative aquaculture systems.

The new EU action also includes a €18.4 million investment to make the European blue economy – the economic sectors that rely on the ocean and its resources – more sustainable.

European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said, “We need the oceans and the oceans need us. We have to urgently reduce marine litter and other sources of pollution, halt illegal fishing and support fragile marine ecosystems. We have to develop our blue economy – create sustainable jobs and growth – supported by cutting-edge research and new technologies. It is for this reason that we are making these commitments.”

The EU’s showpiece Earth observation program Copernicus is high on the list of new commitments. The program’s support will be enlarged with another €12.9 million for maritime security and for research dedicated to coastal environmental services, in addition to the €27 million Copernicus funds devoted at Our Ocean 2017 conference.

With its Maritime Surveillance System, Copernicus has supported EU commitments to reinforce maritime security and law enforcement.

Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska said, “Earth observation helps citizens around the globe to fight climate change, monitor the blue economy and marine pollution or to manage natural disasters.”

Marine litter in China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, will be fought with a €9 million EU-funded project. Another €7 million will go towards protection of marine ecosystems in Southeast Asia.

As one of its commitments, the European Commission is joining forces with United Nations Environment Programme and other international partners to launch a coalition of aquariums to fight plastic pollution.

EU Delivers on 2017 Ocean Commitments

Two years ahead of the initial deadline set, 10 percent of all EU waters have already been designated as Marine Protected Areas. With effective management, adequate funding and robust enforcement, Marine Protected Areas can have both conservation and economic benefits.

The 2017 Our Ocean conference in Malta was a game changer, mobilizing funding and ocean action at an unprecedented scale.

The European Union has already delivered on almost half of EU’s 35 commitments made at the last year’s conference, equalling €300 million.

The EU is now working with Indonesia and future hosts of Our Ocean conferences to keep the momentum going for cleaner and safer seas.

Previous conferences, hosted by the governments of Malta (2017), the United States (2014, 2016) and Chile (2015), have seen a wide range of commitments and billions of euros pledged.

The commitments are only one of the ways by which the European Commission works to accelerate the shift towards circular economy.

On January 16 the EU adopted the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics.

On May 28 new EU-wide rules were proposed to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. The European Parliament endorsed the proposal on October 23. The endorsement was accompanied by the “Ready to change” awareness-raising campaign supported by many aquariums.

Bloomberg and Dalio Give US$185 Million

In a video message at the Our Ocean Conference, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael Bloomberg and OceanX , founded by Dalio Philanthropies President Ray Dalio, announced their new partnership to align and increase their support for the oceans.

Bloomberg and OceanX’s first joint project will be an expedition to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument on OceanX’s marine research and exploration vessel, the Alucia, to explore the region, demonstrate the importance of the marine national monument and illustrate the need for marine conservation across the globe at a time when the oceans require our critical attention.

The effort will be seeded by a combined four-year commitment of over US$185 million.

“More than three billion people depend on the oceans for food and their livelihoods. That means threats to marine ecosystems – like climate change and overfishing – also threaten lives around the world,” said Bloomberg. “We’re teaming up with OceanX to ensure that ocean conservation receives the attention it deserves.”

Focusing on key coral geographies and top fishing nations, over the next four years Bloomberg will support data-driven strategies in fisheries management, coral conservation and pollution reduction in 10 priority countries –  Australia, the Bahamas, Chile, Fiji, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania, and the United States. The initiative will promote global action with government leaders, the private sector, and key NGO partners.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) President and CEO Dr. Cristián Samper commented, “The Our Ocean Conference provides a crucial forum for raising concern about the plight of the world’s marine realm and exploring ways we can protect this vast but limited source of biodiversity and sustenance.”

The nonprofit WCS is a partner of Bloomberg Philanthropies “Vibrant Oceans” coral reef initiative to protect a portfolio of reefs most likely to endure warming ocean temperatures.

“Protecting the health and vitality of coral reefs, among the most biodiverse habitats on earth, is crucial to conserving the earth’s marine biodiversity,” Samper said. “Over the next four years, WCS will leverage its scientific and conservation expertise to conserve coral reefs in nine sites in the coastal waters of Fiji, Indonesia, and Tanzania, hardy ecosystems that were chosen because their reefs exhibit a resilience to increasing sea surface temperatures due to climate change.”

At the same time, WCS will work with communities and national authorities in these and other countries to strengthen monitoring, governance and build effective policies for managing coral reefs over the long term.

“Crucial to saving the world’s coral reefs will be successful partnerships with local community residents who rely on marine resources for health and well-being,” said Samper.

“WCS will continue to work with local partners to identify and reduce threats to reefs while maintaining livelihood options and food security for coastal towns and villages. By taking action at both regional and local levels, we can help preserve the ocean as an irreplaceable natural legacy for future generations.”

Young People Take Part in Ocean Solutions

The 2018 Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit was held on October 29-30 at the Tanjung Benoa Hall of the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center.

The summit was attended by 189 participants aged 17 to 35 who hail from 52 countries. They were selected from 500 candidates representing 56 countries.

The event featured seminars and interactive discussions at the breakout room, focusing on areas of action such as sustainable blue economy, marine pollution, marine protected areas and maritime security.

Featured Image: Surfing Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia, May 29, 2018 (Photo by Wavehaven) Creative Commons license via Flickr


World Running Out of Time to Sustainably Manage Oceans

By Sunny Lewis

NEW YORK, New York, September 18, 2015 (Maximpact News) – The greatest threat to the world’s oceans comes from human failure to deal quickly with the many problems that human activities have created in the marine environment, finds the first World Ocean Assessment written by a UN-convened group of experts.

“Human impacts on the sea are no longer minor in relation to the overall scale of the ocean. A coherent overall approach is needed,” according to the report, presented to the UN General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Working Group on the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects, at a meeting from September 8 to 11.

“Many parts of the ocean have been seriously degraded,” the report states. “If the problems are not addressed, there is a major risk that they will combine to produce a destructive cycle of degradation in which the ocean can no longer provide many of the benefits that humans currently enjoy from it.”

The World Ocean Assessment does not include any analysis of policies. It is intended to support informed decision-making and contribute to managing human activities that affect the oceans and seas in a sustainable manner, under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

 World Ocean Assessment’s Ten Themes:

 

  1. Climate change: Climate change means rises in sea level, higher levels of acidity in the ocean, the reduced mixing of ocean water and increasing deoxygenation.

“The ocean is acidifying rapidly and at an unprecedented rate in the Earth’s history. The impact of ocean acidification on marine species and food webs will affect major economic interests and could increasingly put food security at risk, particularly in regions especially dependent on seafood protein,” according to the assessment.

“The consensus is that increases in global temperature, in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in the radiation from the sun that reaches the ocean have already had an impact on some aspects of the ocean and will produce further significant incremental changes over time,” the report states.

  1. Overexploitation of marine life: Harvesting of living marine resources has exceeded sustainable levels in many regions. And overexploitation has caused ecosystem changes such as the smothering of corals by algae caused by the overfishing of herbivorous fish in parts of the Caribbean.

Overfishing, pollution, loss of habitat and climate change are all putting pressure on fish reproduction with important implications for food security and biodiversity.

AfricanWomenFishing
Women fish in shallow water in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania (Image credit: Matt Kieffer creative commons license via Flickr)

 

  1. Food security and food safety: Fish products are the major source of animal protein for a large fraction of the world’s population, but globally, the current mix of the global capture fisheries is near the ocean’s productive capacity, with catches on the order of 80 million tons a year.

Ending overfishing, including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and rebuilding depleted resources could result in a potential increase of as much as 20 per cent in yield, according to the assessment, but rebuilding depleted stocks would be costly. In some areas, pollution and dead zones are also depressing the production of food from the sea.

  1. Biodiversity: The pressures on marine biodiversity are increasing, particularly near large population centers, in biodiversity hotspots, and in the open ocean, which has so far suffered limited impacts.
  1. Crowded Ocean Spaces: Conflicting demands for dedicated marine space arise from the expansion of longstanding ocean uses, such as fishing and shipping, and from newly developing uses, such as hydrocarbon extraction, mining and offshore generation of renewable energy. As yet there is no clear overarching management system or evaluation of their cumulative impacts on the ocean environment.
  1. Pollution: The burgeoning human population as well as industrial and agricultural production are increasing the emissions of harmful materials and excess nutrients into the ocean.

Sewage discharge levels often are beyond local carrying capacities and can harm human health; still, discharges of industrial effluents and emissions are growing.

Plastic marine debris from the poor management of waste streams on land and at sea means that fish get caught in “ghost” nets, seabirds and seals die from eating plastic bags. Plastic debris destroys the natural beauty of many ocean areas, affecting the livelihoods of local residents who work in the tourist industry. Less obviously, zooplankton and filter-feeding species suffer from the nanoparticles into which those plastics break down, with “serious effects all the way up the food web.”

HumpbackMorroBayHumpback whale breaches in Morro Bay in front of smokestacks at San Luis Obispo, California (Image credit Devra creative commons license via Flickr)

 

  1. Cumulative Impacts: The cumulative adverse impacts of activities that in the past seemed sustainable are resulting in major changes to some ecosystems and in a reduction in the services they provide. For instance, where biodiversity has been altered, the resilience of ecosystems to climate change is often reduced.
  1. Uneven Benefits: Differences in capacities to manage sewage, pollution and habitats create inequities between developed and developing countries. Gaps in capacity-building hinder less developed countries from taking advantage of what the ocean can offer them, and reduce their capability to address the ways they degrade the ocean.
  1. Coherent Marine Management: This requires taking into account the effects on ecosystems of each of the many pressures, what is being done in other sectors and the way that they interact. The ocean is a complex set of systems that are all interconnected, and a coherent management approach requires a wider range of knowledge about the ocean.
  1. Solutions Delayed are Solutions Denied: There are known practical measures to address many of the pressures on marine ecosystems that are degrading the ocean, causing social and economic problems. Delays in implementing known solutions, even if they are only partial and will leave more to be done, mean that “we are unnecessarily incurring those environmental, social and economic costs,” the assessment warns.

The World Ocean Assessment was born 2002, when the World Summit on Sustainable Development recommended that there be a regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, and the UN General Assembly accepted that recommendation.

In December 2010, the General Assembly established a formal Group of Experts to produce the first World Ocean Assessment by 2014. A much larger pool of experts assists the Group of Experts in conducting the assessments and provides peer-review to ensure the high quality of the outputs.

The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations, acts as the secretariat for the World Ocean Assessment.

A Bureau of 15 UN Member States, representing the regional groups of the United Nations, oversees the entire process.

Find the basics behind the first World Ocean Assessment here.

Read a summary of the World Ocean Assessment here:


About the Author: Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990. Find ENS online at: www.ens-newswire.com

Featured image: Endangered Hawaiian monk seal entangled in marine debris (Image credit: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).