An international group of politicians, business leaders and conservationists have outlined a proposal to put an immediate end to unsustainable fishing and marine pollution.
The Global Ocean Commission is formed by 17 leaders from around the world and has suggested in a new report a “rescue package” to restore declining oceans to full health. This includes restricting fishing in international waters, cutting fishing subsidies, mandatory tracking for fishing vessels and the establishment of high seas marine protected areas.
The commission put particular emphasis on cutting fishing subsides, which it said should be eliminated completely in five years, because they fuel unsustainable practices such as bottom trawling.
If these measures are not taken within the timeframe set out, the UN should consider designating the high seas as a “regeneration zone” to help fish stocks recover, the commission added.
“Our ocean is in decline. Habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, overfishing, pollution, climate change and ocean acidification are pushing the ocean system to the point of collapse. Governance is woefully inadequate, and on the high seas, anarchy rules the waves”, the co-chairs, including former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband, say in the report.
Marie Harf, spokesperson for the US Department of State, commented, “This high-level body has offered some valuable suggestions that support Secretary Kerry’s Action Plan that emerged from the Our Ocean Conference, particularly relating to ending overfishing, cracking down on illegal fishing, and reducing marine pollution.”
Meanwhile Sarah North, Greenpeace UK’s head of oceans, added, “Healthy oceans dramatically reduce the impact of carbon emissions and increase our resilience to climate change. Governments must take urgent action to ensure the oceans are protected from companies seeking to make profits from activities that will destroy the planet’s life support system.”
The commission estimated the value of services provided by the oceans in terms of food, water, energy, recreation and carbon mitigation to be between $75-222 billion per year.
Photo: Swaminathan via Flickr