Our marine ecosystems require protection from harmful human impact.
MPAs protect landscapes and biodiversity, allowing commercial species to reproduce and thrive, restocking adjacent fisheries. They support heritage and sustainable exploitation, and lead to the creation of new jobs in tourism, research and education.
International law requires a minimum of 10% of marine and coastal areas to be effectively protected by 2020. Today, only 4% of marine and coastal areas are protected by law, and less than 1% is fully enforced.
Without surveillance, participatory stewardship and sound environmental accountancy, protected areas fail to provide necessary safe havens and services. This is particularly true for developing countries, which risk losing the valuable marine resources they depend on.
The Our Ocean Conference is looking for commitments to develop effective regional networks of MPAs, and to support them with sufficient economic resources, technical capacity and participatory sustainable management.
Our atmosphere and oceans are experiencing drastic change: they are warming up and changing composition, faster than ever recorded.
This has consequences on a global scale. Some are increasingly obvious: rising sea levels, extreme weather conditions, ocean acidification, dead zones and invasive species. The impact on coastal communities is dramatic.
Our oceans have absorbed 90% of excess greenhouse heat, as well as 30% of CO2 generated by humans, which has altered productivity and biodiversity patterns. This jeopardises our fish and seafood supply, in turn threatening food security.
Rising sea levels have caused coastlines to recede hundreds of metres, and extreme weather is generating record catastrophes, endangering whole communities and traditional livelihoods. Small island states are particularly vulnerable to the resulting economic damage, as are coastal lowlands where trade, wealth and most of the world's population are concentrated.
The Our Ocean Conference is looking for commitments to react to and prepare for climate change and rising sea levels, helping communities to adapt and work with nature, not against it.
One billion people, largely in developing countries, rely on seafood as their primary source of animal protein. In addition, millions of jobs around the world depend on fisheries, aquaculture and their global market. Seafood is the largest traded food commodity in the world, and an integral component for the livelihoods and traditions of many.
But global fisheries are a limited and shared resource, and a growing world population has only exacerbated rising demand. Pollution and degradation put fish populations under further stress. This threatens sustainability, global food security and whole marine ecosystems, where valuable commercial species are disappearing. Overexploitation, often driven by overcapacity, technical advances, poor management and a lack of control, has already removed up to 90% of the larger species from the world’s oceans.
All this has a dramatic impact on traditional fishing and fishery-dependent communities. At the same time, the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) represents up to €10 billion annually (up to 15% of the global catch).
The Our Ocean Conference is looking for commitments to tackle these critical issues, reversing overexploitation and fighting IUU fishing, helping to manage our common resources at sustainable levels, with a long-term, ecosystem-based approach.
Virtually every corner of the world’s oceans is affected by pollution, a growing global challenge with an acute environmental, social and economic impact.
Marine pollution provokes deep ecological shifts, great losses in biodiversity and reduced commercial yields. Contaminants such as heavy metals accumulated through the food chain or bacterial loads in coastal waters directly affect the health of millions of people.
Plastic litter and urban waste are accumulating worldwide at an alarming rate. In some areas, micro plastics already outnumber plankton by six to one.
Marine pollution costs billions. Dangerous items such as lost containers and fishing gear directly threaten navigation, infrastructure, marine species and human lives.
Tackling marine pollution is an ambitious challenge, but also a great opportunity: a circular economy that reduces waste could yield billions in cash just by improving efficiency. The need for litter recovery and recycling will open the door to new innovative business models. Such 'blue' entrepreneurship will not only help to improve the health and productivity of the marine environment, it will also allow smart solutions for sustainable development to flourish.
The Our Ocean Conference is looking for commitments from public authorities, business and civil society to help reduce contamination and littering, and develop initiatives that make ocean litter prevention, recovery and recycling more efficient. With political will building momentum, this year’s conference aims to see the kind of commitment to action that will finally reverse the trend of ever-increasing marine pollution.