The Oceans in Crisis Briefing for the G77 Forum at the United Nations (UN) on October 3rd was attended by many States including Brazil, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Iran, Malaysia, Philippines, Trinidad and the Seychelles. The briefing opened with an introduction from Pakistan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Farukh Amil, who hosted the event and spoke about the importance of ocean and natural resource protection. Dr Ussif Rashid Sumaila, Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit, University of British Colombia Fisheries Centre, provided analyses on the state of the oceans over the past 50 years and examined trends including the rise in distant water fishing from North to South, as well as the rise in fishing access agreements and subsidies.
“You can’t be a friend of fishers without first being a friend of fish,” he said. Speaking to the solutions, Dr Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Biology at the University of York and author of ‘The Unnatural History of the Sea’, addressed the importance of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and reserves in enabling continued fishing activity over the longer term, by building the resilience of depleted populations. To achieve this he said that relatively large areas, equating to 20-40% of oceans must be protected to deliver the type of benefits required. Karen Sack, Head of Oceans for DSCC member Greenpeace, spoke about the need to close current governance gaps through an implementing agreement to UNCLOS.
She added, “States need to act now to implement the 2006 UN General Assembly resolution on deep ocean bottom trawling”. Both Karen Sack and Professor Roberts pointed to the long running nature of the debate around Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing. Professor Roberts said that IUU fishing had been a problem since the 1200s and Karen Sack that once again the issue of flags of convenience was being discussed at the UN without resolution. Karen Sack stated that “With 135 countries plus China, the G77 really is the big ocean states, covering kilometres of coastline. We strongly encourage the G77 to use its voice to change the nature of the debate, and to change the dynamic.” Concluding the briefing, Mr Amil said: “As G77 countries we need to preserve our natural resources in a sustainable manner. We have to be vigilant of over-exploitation, and the bottom line is; will we as a species allow the greed of human kind to destroy the very thing that sustains life on our planet?” A webcast of the event can be viewed at: http://www.un.org/webcast/2007.html