World Oceans Day: UN Chief calls for greater action to protect oceans says “humanity is its worst enemy”


New Delhi: UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday called for greater action to protect oceans in his message to mark World Oceans Day. World Oceans Day is celebrated every year on 8 June to create awareness among people regarding the significance of oceans, and the importance of preserving and conserving oceanic resources.

“The ocean is the foundation of life. It supplies the air we breathe and food we eat. It regulates our climate and weather. The ocean is our planet’s greatest reservoir of biodiversity,” he said.

Besides these benefits, the ocean also produces resources that sustain communities, prosperity and health. Worldwide, more than a billion people alone rely on fish as their main source of protein.

“We should be the ocean’s best friend. But right now, humanity is its worst enemy,” he said, pointing to the evidence.

The UN chief said human-induced climate change is heating the planet, disrupting weather patterns and ocean currents, and altering marine ecosystems and the species living there.

Marine biodiversity is also under attack from overfishing, over-exploitation and ocean acidification, fish stocks are being depleted, and coastal waters have been polluted with chemicals, plastics and human wastes.

Every year, the World Oceans Day is celebrated under a specific theme. This year, the theme of World Oceans day 2023 is “Planet Ocean: The Tides are Changing.”

The concept of celebrating ocean day on a global level was first proposed in 1992 by the Canadian government at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since the proposal was highly supported and appreciated by delegates, the UN General Assembly passed an official resolution to celebrate the 8 June as the World Oceans Day.

World Oceans Day is recognised with the aim to reduce the reckless exploitation of oceans and develop sustainable measures to protect them.

Several measures like demolishing the use of plastics, developing strong environmental policies, and implementing rules and regulations to support sustainable seafood choices are some of the effective ways to protect precious natural resources like oceans.

Mr. Guterres recalled that last December, countries adopted an ambitious global target to conserve and manage 30 per cent of land, and marine and coastal areas, by the end of the decade.

“Realizing the great promise of these initiatives requires collective commitment,” Mr. Guterres said.

There is not a single global problem today, be it climate change, food security or poverty, that can be solved without considering the ocean as part of the solution.

That’s the message from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ahead of World Oceans Day on Thursday.

The ocean is already the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world and offers many opportunities to help feed the growing global population.

Manuel Barange, FAO’s Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Resources, highlighted the rapid development of aquaculture the farming of fish and aquatic plants:

“Aquaculture has been the fastest growing food production system for the last five decades, from virtually zero three or four decades ago, to now virtually the same production as capture fisheries”, he said.

“We expect aquaculture to grow by about 25 per cent between now and the end of this decade.”

FAO has spearheaded a Blue Transformation Initiative which promotes aquatic foods as part of the solution to hunger and malnutrition.

It aims to ensure that fisheries are managed effectively and sustainably, and that the value chain of aquatic foods is transparent to the consumer.

The agency says that about 600 million people depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods.


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