Report warns world's oceans at point of collapse

64 per cent of the ocean surface isn’t under the control and protection of a national government and The Global Ocean Commission has put forward a report on the declining health of the planet’s high seas.

Report warns world's oceans at point of collapse

World Bulletin / News Desk

A new report by a group of former world leaders, including ex-prime minister Paul Martin, says fixing our oceans will require unpopular, expensive changes.

64 per cent of the ocean surface isn’t under the control and protection of a national government and The Global Ocean Commission has put forward a report on the declining health of the planet’s high seas.

The commission is a combination of public and private sector figures, including former heads of state and ministers as well as business people, supported by scientific and economic advisors working on ways to reverse the degradation of the ocean and address the failures of high seas governance.

Former world leaders and ministers from countries around the globe say that it is time to impose governance on the unclaimed high seas because human activity has put the world’s oceans on a dangerous trajectory of decline.

The Global Ocean Commission that is made up of 18 prominent former politicians and heads of major international organizations, is going to release a report Tuesday following 18 months of investigation that calls for a five-year “rescue package” for the 64 per cent of the world’s oceans that lie outside national jurisdiction.

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin who represented Canada on the commission was asked to be part of the initiative by commission co-chair Trevor Manuel, the former finance minister of South Africa.

Mr. Martin said in an interview on Monday that it will not be easy to convince countries to take steps that will cause short-term economic pain, but those steps are necessary in the long term to protect regional stability, food security and the integrity of the oceans which the report calls “the kidney of the planet.”

“Inevitably, when you are dealing with the global commons,” Mr. Martin said, “the right thing to do becomes in the economic interests of everybody.”

In the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail, the commissioners say overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction, acidification and other human activities are pushing the ocean system to the point of collapse which end up not meeting the needs of human beings that rely on the oceans for clean air, climate stability, rain and fresh water, transport, energy, food and livelihoods.

There must also be accountability for the progress of ocean remediation in the form of an oversight board made up of scientists and others, he said. “Because, if you don’t measure it, if you don’t keep score, it will fade from the public mind,” Mr. Martin said.

And Canada, he said, has a major role to play. “There is one country that has the longest coastline in the world” and has a large responsibility for the health of the Arctic Ocean in particular, Mr. Martin said. “If we don’t act on the oceans, then all of the riches that exist within the 200-mile limit are going to get frittered away.”

Yes, there will be a cost to protecting the oceans, he said. “But as with so many of these things, the cost is infinitesimally small compared to what the alternative is.”

Last Mod: 24 Haziran 2014, 14:40
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