World’s Oceans Depleted, Destroyed … Killed

Human Wrongs Watch

The impact of commercial over-exploitation of the world’s fish stocks, with more than half of global fisheries exhausted and a further third depleted, and between 30 and 35 per cent of critical marine environments –such as seagrasses, mangroves and coral reefs–estimated to have been destroyed.

**UN Photo/Martine Perret

Furthermore, plastic debris continues to kill marine life, and pollution from land is creating areas of coastal waters that are almost devoid of oxygen.

These are just some of the key facts about the current situation of world’s oceans, which have been circulated on the occasion of the World Oceans Day on 8 June.

The rapid, steady destruction of the oceans moved United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to urge countries to boost their efforts to protect the world’s oceans, which are threatened by overfishing, toxic waste, and climate change.

Oceans Play Key Role
“We must do more for our world’s oceans, which are threatened by pollution, depleted fishery resources, the impacts of climate change and the deterioration of the marine environment,” Ban said in his message marking World Oceans Day, which also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – the so-called ‘constitution of the oceans.’
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Given the important role played by oceans for the planet’s food security, and the health and survival of all life, as well energy needs, the UN General Assembly decided that, from 2009, 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as ‘World Oceans Day’ to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.
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In his message, Ban stressed that the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), in Brazil later this month, will provide a once in a generation opportunity for Member States to act and have a significant impact on this issue.
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Curb Overfishing, Improve Protection of Marine Environment, Reduce Ocean Pollution… 
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“The protection of the world’s oceans and coasts is among the key goals of [Rio+20],” he said.
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“Rio+20 must mobilize the UN, governments and other partners to improve the management and conservation of oceans through initiatives to curb overfishing, improve protection of the marine environment and reduce ocean pollution and the impact of climate change.”
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The Secretary-General also called on governments that have not done so to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which governs all aspects of ocean space, from delimitation of maritime boundaries, environmental regulations, scientific research, commerce and the settlement of international disputes involving marine issues.
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The Convention was first opened for signature in 1982 and entered into force in 1994; it has so far been ratified by 60 States, the UN reported.
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Home to Largest Animal, Billions of Tiniest Micro-organisms
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Marking the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May, Ban highlighted the fragile state of the world’s oceans, urging greater protection for marine biodiversity.
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“Oceans cover almost three-quarters of the surface area of the globe. They are home to the largest animal known to have lived on the planet – the blue whale – as well as billions upon billions of the tiniest of microorganisms. From sandy shores to the darkest depths of the sea, oceans and coasts support a rich tapestry of life on which human communities rely,” Ban said in a message to mark the Day.
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“Yet, despite its importance, marine biodiversity… has not fared well at human hands,” he added. The General Assembly proclaimed 22 May as the International Day for Biological Diversity, to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The theme for this year’s observance is marine diversity.
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The Burning of Fossil Fuels
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“Added to all of this, increased burning of fossil fuels is affecting the global climate, making the sea surface warmer, causing sea level to rise and increasing ocean acidity, with consequences we are only beginning to comprehend,” he noted.
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According to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the survival of marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity is essential to the nutritional, spiritual, societal and religious well-being of many communities, and not just those in coastal areas, the UN reports.
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Amongst its findings, it notes that fisheries provide more than 15 per cent of the global dietary intake of animal protein; oceans and coastal areas provide invaluable ecosystem services, from tourism to protection from storms; and, minuscule photosynthesizing plants called phytoplankton provide 50 per cent of all the oxygen on Earth.
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The CBD entered into force in December 1993, with three main objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
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**UN Photo/Martine Perret
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