posted by Prime Sarmiento
Rio de Janeiro – Rio+20 was a disappointment for ocean campaigners who came to the summit on hopes that it will produce an agreement to protect marine diversity in the high seas.
Despite a weak text that delayed decision on a new treaty on the high seas that will be included in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ocean campaigners vowed to move on and continue to work on ocean protection and conservation.
“ We are very disappointed. We came to this meeting excited that ocean will be one of the top priorities,” Susan Lieberman, deputy director of international policy at the Pew Environment Group. She noted that for ocean campaigners – which include scientists, policy researchers and environmental activists – Rio+20, is more than anEarth Summit, but an “Ocean Summit.”
“Rio+20 has shown less backbone than your average jelly fish but if we use this to take the action clearly indicated then progress will have been made,” said Matthew Gianni, co founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.
Ocean campaigners identified six clear areas for international and national action:
1. Fulfillment of the UN resolution to end deep sea bottom fishing
2. An end to overfishing—including the suspension of fishing in some cases until stocks have recovered
3. Requirement that regional fisheries management bodies be accountable to the U.N.
4. National action to eliminate harmful fisheries subsidies
5. Closure of ports to illegally obtained fish
6. Establishment of national and high seas marine protected areas, including reserves
Ocean campaigners said the so-called “coalition of the unwilling” – the U.S., Canada, Japan, Venezuela and Russia blocked a strong language that will lead to high seas protection and delayed decision on a new treaty on the high seas.
Despite a major setback to ocean protection, ocean campaigners are still hopeful given that there are still provisions in the draft text that will help to protect ocean biodiversity. These include commitment against illegal fishing and harmful fish subsidies and renewing fast depleting fish stocks.
“It will not change the world but they’re good text and we’re calling on world leaders to commit on it,” Lieberman said.
“We can’t give up on the ocean,” Lieberman said, noting that’s tantamount to “giving up on our lives and the future of our children.”
Creative Commons image by Edwin.11