World Leaders Should Seize Chance to Save the Oceans
Statement by Dawn M. Martin, Chief Operating Officer, Oceana
Press Release Date: September 3, 2002
Today Oceana is pleased to join with other ocean advocates to talk about the need to ensure implementation of the agreements reached here in Johannesburg. The partnerships we are discussing are an important part of the overall focus of the Summit on action – but they must be based on solid and strong commitments in the Plan of Implementation.
To be successful, commitments should be made by all sectors of society – NGO’s, governments, intergovernmental organizations, academia, and businesses – to stand together to take on the many challenges facing the oceans.
The White Water to Blue Water Initiative is an example of the type of action that must be taken. The Initiative calls for promotion of sustainable fisheries by reducing illegal fishing and bycatch in the wider Caribbean region and later in the South Pacific.
Twenty-five percent of the world’s fish catch – 44 billion pounds of fish and thousands of ocean animals – is unintentionally caught and discarded, dead and dying, each year. Such wasted catch and other destructive fishing practices are a large part of the reason why more than 70% of marine fish species worldwide need urgent action to prevent population declines.
As we celebrate “oceans day” here at the Summit, we are encouraged by measures tentatively agreed to by the delegates to help rebuild depleted fisheries, stop destructive fishing practices such as bycatch and bottom-trawling, eliminate subsidies that promote illegal fishing and overcapacity, prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, establish marine protected areas, and reduce marine pollution and environmental damage caused by ships
Together these agreements take an important step toward achieving sustainable use of the oceans and protecting against the degradation that seriously threatens food security and the eradication of poverty across the globe.
The oceans portion of the Plan of Implementation also contains explicit deadlines for many critical fishery and ocean pollution goals that are essential for spurring the nations of the world to take concrete steps and achieve real progress.
Specifically, the Plan of Implementation provides for the following deadlines:
* by 2004 – it calls for developing and implementing a plan of action to eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (which have especially detrimental effects on the food security and economies of developing nations);
* by 2004 – it calls for the global reporting and an assessment of the state of the marine environment;
* by 2005 – it calls for developing and implementing a plan of action to manage fishing capacity; and
* by 2012 – it calls for the use of the ecosystem approach, the elimination of destructive fishing practices, and the establishment of marine protected areas, including representative networks; and
* by 2015 – it calls for the restoration of depleted fisheries
As a result of inclusion of firm deadlines, the WSSD ocean provisions are already further ahead than some of the biggest accomplishments of Rio – 10 years ago. For this reason, Oceana and the Wildlife Conservation Society are releasing our updated Oceans Scorecard and have given the Summit a passing grade for resolving outstanding issues calling for the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, providing for a stronger mechanism to reduce pollution from ships by flag states, and restoring fish populations to sustainable levels by 2015. We are very pleased that there was agreement among the nations of the world to commit to rebuilding depleted fisheries on a timetable similar to the 10-year timetable which the United States is implementing under the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996.
But this ground-breaking Plan carries no weight unless countries support the document, pass their own laws to implement these strategies, and the world leaders at the Summit make a strong statement on protecting the oceans in their Political Declaration. Moreover, national laws cannot protect the global ocean commons unless strong international treaties are enforced on the High Seas. Therefore, it is premature to consider the Summit a real success until the nations of the world are called upon to act now in a strong Political Declaration to protect and restore the global oceans.
The progress shown at the WSSD has been an important first step. Now the leaders of the world must demonstrate the political will and leadership that is so desperately needed if we are to save the oceans and the circle of life that supports us all.
Oceana is a non-profit international environmental organization created for the sole purpose of protecting the world’s oceans to sustain the circle of life. In May 2002, Oceana merged with the American Oceans Campaign to bring together dedicated people from around the world to build an international movement to save the oceans through advocacy, science, economics, legal action, grassroots mobilization, and public education. www.oceana.org