Spotlight: Countries agree on measures to cope with ocean problems

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-10 07:53:53|Editor: Liu

Photo taken on June 5, shows the Ocean Conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Representatives from some 85 countries attended the five-day conference, which would focus on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Governments in 2015, the organizers said. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

UNITED NATIONS, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The 193 UN member states agreed Friday on a set of measures to cope with a variety of ocean problems ranging from marine pollution, illegal fisheries to ocean acidification.

The measures include implementing long-term strategies to reduce the use of plastics and microplastics, tackle sea-level rise and address harmful impacts of climate change on the ocean, according to a document called "Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action" passed at the first-ever UN Ocean Conference.

UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson said that the conference is in support of the sustainable development goal 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

"It is about changing those bad habits (and) righting the wrongs that humanity has done to the ocean so that we can stop the cycle of decline that the ocean has in and return it to a healthy state," he told Xinhua in an interview.

Noting that ocean plastics and microplastics are posing a grave threat, Thomson said measures should be taken to prevent plastics from getting into the ocean, recycle them and stop using single-use plastics anymore.

Statistics show that each year, more than 8 million metric tons plastic end up in oceans. By the year of 2050, oceans will have more plastic than fish if present trends are not addressed, according to estimates.

"There are more micro-plastics in the oceans now than there are stars in the sky," noted Thomson. "It's destroying the wildlife of the ocean, and it may also be destroying us."

Among the outcome of the UN Ocean Conference are voluntary commitments submitted by the member states. China has submitted five commitments on marine protection, disaster prevention, sustainable ocean economy, as well as on regional and international cooperation in the area of oceans and seas.

According to the documents, China has promised to promote transformation and upgrading of its traditional marine industries like marine fishery and offshore oil and gas industries. China has also made the commitment that by 2020, the water quality of 70 percent offshore sea can be improved.

Thomson said he has discussed with officials of China's State Oceanic Administration on a range of ocean issues.

He said that he is impressed by the proactive measures taken by China in dealing with marine pollution and marine consumption and that he is willing to work with China to promote the idea of sustainable ocean economy.

Moreover, Thomson said that addressing the issue of the ocean requires efforts not only from governments but also contributions from the private sector, academia, and non-governmental organizations.

"Obviously we are part of the equation. The equation requires humanities as a whole," he said.

KEY WORDS: ocean problems