World Bank issues SOS for oceans

Global lender launches partnership between governments, scientists and organisations to restore health of planet’s seas.

According to the World Bank, 85 per cent of ocean fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted [EPA]

A coalition of governments, international organisations and other groups have joined forces with the World Bank to confront threats to the health of the planet’s oceans.

Launching the Global Partnership for Oceans on Friday, Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank said marine life was threatened by over-fishing, loss of habitat and environmental degradation.

“Send out the S-O-S: We need to Save Our Seas,” said Zoellick, speaking at the World Oceans Summit in Singapore.

“The world’s oceans are in danger, and the enormity of the challenge is bigger than one country or organisation. We need co-ordinated global action to restore our oceans to health. Together we’ll build on the excellent work already being done to address the threats to oceans, identify workable solutions, and scale them up.”
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The bank hopes to raise $1.5bn in the next five years to protect oceans.

Zoellick said the partnership would bring together “countries, scientific centres, NGOs, international organisations, foundations and the private sector to pool knowledge, experience, expertise, and investment around a set of agreed upon goals”.

About 85 per cent of ocean fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted, including most of the stocks of the top 10 species, according to Zoellick.

“The facts don’t lie and the statistics are we are not doing enough, we are not accomplishing enough and the oceans continue to get sick and die,” he said.

Zoellick proposed several 10-year targets for the partnership, including rebuilding at least half of the world’s fish stocks.

Marine protected areas should be more than doubled, he said, noting that less than two per cent of the oceans’ surface was protected, compared to about 12 per cent of land.

On the economic side alone the implications were enormous if little was done, he told the gathering.

In developing countries, one billion people depend on fish and seafood for their primary source of protein and over half a billion rely on fishing as a means of livelihood, Zoellick said.

For developing countries, including many island and coastal nations, fish represent the single most traded food product, and for many Pacific Island states fish make up 80 percent of total exports.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies