Preserving and protecting oceans and seas crucial for the health of our planet: PGA John Ashe

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John Ashe

Small island developing states (SIDS) have a special appreciation of seas and oceans. They define a way of life. The seas and oceans surround them, President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe said in remarks on the Blue Economy at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

He said the inhabitants of SIDS have experienced the delicate flavour of fresh caught fish, and have seen the beauty of the full moon sparkling on the sea at night and more recently have begun experienced firsthand the ravages of the impacts of climate change, the coastal inundation and the destruction of coastlines and the habitats of marine life. And he noted that SIDS know first-hand the adverse impacts on the way of life of their people, and in some cases how their geo-physical existence is at stake.

According to the General Assembly President, with oceans covering two-thirds of the earth's surface, humankind's relationship with these vast bodies of water is an essential one, noting that the oceans are in a very real sense the bloodstream of our planet.

Ambassador Ashe stressed that the oceans are also the source of livelihood for large numbers of people – over three billion – who depend upon them. Oceans and coastal regions, he said, are key to poverty reduction and support a range of industries from fisheries to shipping, from tourism to marine transportation, often providing income opportunities for vulnerable groups such as women and youth.

And he explained that ocean resources are the major source of protein for more than 2.6 billion people globally and are a regulator of greenhouse gases by capturing and storing 30% of the carbon humans produce.

But he said it is well known that despite their economic, social and environmental benefits, oceans, seas and their related ecosystems are facing numerous local and global threats caused by human activity and climate change.

General Assembly President Ambassador Ashe warned that while oceans are indeed capturing carbon, the introduction of massive amounts of CO2 into the seas is altering water chemistry and affecting the life cycles of many marine organisms, particularly those at the lower end of the food chain. Meanwhile, he said, pollution, ocean acidification and unsustainable exploitation of marine resources are leading to enormous losses in biodiversity.

Ambassador Ashe concluded that the nations of the world are all in agreement that preserving and protecting oceans and seas is crucial for the health of our planet and to supporting sustainable livelihoods, food and energy.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 2’19″

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December 2017
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