Ban Ki-moon marks World Oceans Day by Drawing Attention to "Terrible Toll" Mankind Having on Oceans, Seas
(HN, June 8, 2010) Marking the second World Oceans Day today, the UN Secretary General said humans activities - from over-fishing to piracy - are taking a "terrible toll" on the world's fragile marine ecosystems.
Said Ban Ki-moon: "Human activities are taking a terrible toll on the world’s oceans and seas. Vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as corals, and important fisheries are being damaged by over-exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing practices, invasive alien species and marine pollution, especially from land-based sources. Increased sea temperatures, sea-level rise and ocean acidification caused by climate change pose a further threat to marine life, coastal and island communities and national economies.
"Oceans are also affected by criminal activity. Piracy and armed robbery against ships threaten the lives of seafarers and the safety of international shipping, which transports 90 per cent of the world’s goods. Smuggling of illegal drugs and the trafficking of persons by sea are further examples of how criminal activities threaten lives and the peace and security of the oceans."
The idea for World Oceans Day stemmed form the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and the United Nations General Assembly had subsequently decided that that day would be celebrated every 8 June, starting in 2009. This year’s theme is “Our Oceans: Opportunities and Challenges”.
The oceans are essential to food security and the health and survival of all life, power our climate and are a critical part of the biosphere. They cover 71% of the Earth's surface and contain 97% of the planet's water. The official designation of World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.
This year's commemorations have taken special significance in the wake of the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bill Mott, director of The Ocean Project, a network of 1,200 organizations worldwide working to help promote World Oceans Day and to communicate with the public about conservation issues, said of the BP oil spill. "I think this is going to create a whole new generation of people who are much more aware of how we are all connected to the ocean in so many ways," he told MSNBC.com.
The Secretary General said one of the most long-standing and effective international instruments to protect the oceans and seas is the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
As part of the UN observance of the event, a roundtable discussion is being held at UN headquarters in New York and the city's legendary Empire State Building will be illuminated in white, blue and purple to signify the entirety of the oceans - from the shallows to the darker depths."
In Nairobi, the UN Environment Programme is commemorating World Oceans Day at its headquarters with the screening of Ωcéans, a film by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud film. The documentary is designed to raise awareness of the need to protect our oceans.