By Joanna Benn, Pew Environment Group, December 13, 2011
The Ocean as a Priority
Sustainable use of the ocean and precautionary, science-based management of marine resources and biodiversity are essential for achieving sustainable development. During the preparatory process for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20), restoring the health and economic viability of ocean ecosystems arose as prominent issues among all stakeholders. Political groups, States and non-governmental organizations identified ocean issues as critical in submissions to the compilation document. Additionally, the UNCSD Bureau has indicated that management of the ocean will be one of the seven priority areas addressed.
Momentum is mounting for leaders to agree to a strong ocean outcome as a critical part of meeting the objectives of UNCSD and fulfilling the promise of sustainable development.
Threats to the Ocean
Overexploitation of fish stocks, destruction of marine ecosystems and a steady trend of biodiversity loss threaten food security, economic stability and the livelihoods of millions. Many threats to the ocean are consequences of harmful anthropogenic activities including, in particular, industrial fishing. In their submissions to the compilation document, political groups and States provide specific reference to ocean threats which should be addressed in the outcome document of UNCSD.
What follows is an analysis of submissions from political groups and States on threats to the ocean and the ramifications for sustainable development. The Pew Environment Group has attempted to highlight commonalities and to offer recommendations to address these threats to ensure a healthy ocean for future generations.