"Plastic is everywhere in the ocean."
"87% of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted."
These are just two of a number of very troubling statements concerning our world’s oceans, as outlined in a report released last Tuesday by the Global Ocean Commission. The report, which comprehensively details the issues that pose a threat to the health of our oceans, asks that countries cease turning a blind eye to the immeasurable harm that they inflict regularly. It demands that countries make the rectification of our oceans’ health an immediate priority, or else face the risk of causing irreversible damage.
The report cites a rising demand for resources, new technological advances, the depletion of fish stocks, climate change, and weak high seas governance as the most prominent reasons for the decline in the health of our oceans. It explains that the world’s immense growth in population-- reaching 7 billion people in November 2011-- has driven the demand for the ocean’s treasure trove of resources to naturally unsustainable levels. It warns that a failure to address climate change would have a calamitous effect on the world’s oceans, potentially wiping out as much as 60% of ocean species by 2050.
The report goes further than simply identifying the root causes of the ocean’s demise; it offers up a series of important steps, most notably Proposals 1 and 2, which would help remedy many of the ocean’s issues.
Proposal 1 advocates for the creation of a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) as a means to help put the issue of our ocean’s health at the forefront of the post-2015 UN Development agenda. This action is vital to helping fix the ocean’s issues, as it would not only increase visibility and trigger resources to act, but also help the world to recognize that the “global ocean is an Earth system that needs to be addressed and managed as a single entity.”
Proposal 2 urges the strengthening of global governance in order to sufficiently protect the biological diversity of the high seas and to ensure sustainable usage of marine living resources. The proposal advocates the universal ratification of international treaties like the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which helps to define the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans and helps to protect the conservation of marine natural resources.
As a staunch supporter of using international cooperation to solve issues that affect the global community, I fully support and agree with the Global Ocean Commission’s report and its recommendations for the future. Nations must implement the commission’s proposals as they are able--particularly Proposals 1 and 2.
For if the world fails to address the rapid decline of the ocean’s health, the consequences of our inaction will be felt not only in the present, but for many years to come.