“We don’t have access to marine areas, because most are protected areas or are in private hands. We indigenous people have been losing access to our territories, as this decision became a privilege of the state,” complained Donald Rojas, a member of the Brunka indigenous community in Costa Rica.
The 193-member General Assembly adopted a resolution Friday aimed at drafting a legally binding international treaty for the conservation of marine biodiversity and to govern the mostly lawless high seas beyond national jurisdiction.
In pure numbers, the past few decades have been marked by destruction: over the last 40 years, Earth has lost 52 percent of its wild animals; nearly 17 percent of the world’s forests have been felled in the last half-century; freshwater ecosystems have witnessed a 75-percent decline in animal populations since 1970; and nearly 95 percent of coral reefs are today threatened by pollution, coastal development and overfishing.
After years of claiming untruthfully that the world’s most fished marine protected area was “off limits to fishing and other extractive uses,” President Anote Tong of the Pacific island state of Kiribati and his cabinet have voted to close it to all commercial fishing by the end of the year.
“The Marine Protected Area (MPA) created around the Chagos archipelago is a new obstacle that the British government has placed in our path to prevent us from going back to our homeland,” claims Olivier Bancoult, leader of the Chagos Refugees Group (CRG).
International negotiations between more than two-dozen countries to set up conservation areas in the Antarctic seas were thrown into confusion Monday when the Russian and Ukrainian delegations questioned the body’s legal standing to make such designations, despite previous precedent.
The immense scale of the Pacific Ocean, at 165 million square kilometres, inspires awe and fascination, but for those who inhabit the 22 Pacific island countries and territories, it is the very source of life. Without it, livelihoods and economies would collapse, hunger and ill-health would become endemic and human survival would be threatened.
Everyone loves penguins, but few will know that Thursday is World Penguin Day. Fewer still are those who know penguins are threatened with extinction by climate change and giant fishing trawlers from Europe and Asia stalking the oceans around Antarctica.