1.5 Bln Pledged to Protect the Marine Enviroment

A $1.5 billion in pledges to support marine conservation efforts was announced by the US Secretary of State John Kerry on the closing day of the Our Ocean Conference in Washington on June 17th.

Phoenix Islands Protected Area
Phoenix Islands Protected Area

The international two-day conference, gathering several heads of state, international environmental protection organizations and maritime experts from over 80 countries, also resulted in a plan framework  on best practices and methods to improve the marine environment and mitigate/reverse damage.

According to Kerry, the goal is for this plan to translate into a unified global ocean policy, in which process, governments will have an important role to play.

“In addition to that, with some new commitments we’re soon going to be halfway to the number of countries needed to ratify the Port State Measures Agreement so that it can enter into force,” Kerry added.

“Finally, right now only a small fraction of the world’s ocean, as we have all talked about it, is currently protected,” he said, adding that with the announcements that have been made so far and that of the US President Obama, “we’re potentially on the verge of protecting more than 3 million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean. We need to do more elsewhere but that is a terrific start.”

The US President announced the use of his executive powers to expand legal protections already in place at the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Obama is also expected to order a new task force on illegal fishing and make sure more research funds are allocated for monitoring changes in ocean chemistry.

Kiribati President Anote Tong, who was among state leaders to attend the conference,voiced his government’s intention to impose a ban on commercial fishing in more than 400,000 square kilometers of its territorial waters, as of January 2015. This would pave the way for the Phoenix Islands Protected Area to recover fish stocks, as explained by Tong.

World Maritime News Staff, June 19, 2014; Image: UNESCO