Rio+20 must make a measureable commitment to save our seas and oceans

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 21 June 2012

Rio+20 must make a measureable commitment to save our seas and oceans Stop floundering and show us your jaws, Marine Conservation Society tells Rio + 20 Ministers As Ministers from around the world congregate in Rio de Janeiro to make global commitments at the United Nations Conferences on Environment and Development, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is urging them to amend their draft text to make three key measureable commitments rather than the present empty promises.

Rio+20 must make a measureable commitment to save our seas and oceans Stop floundering and show us your jaws, Marine Conservation Society tells Rio + 20 Ministers As Ministers from around the world congregate in Rio de Janeiro to make global commitments at the United Nations Conferences on Environment and Development, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is urging them to amend their draft text to make three key measureable commitments rather than the present empty promises. “The draft Rio+20 commitments are weak and lack teeth. We need Jaws, not this floundering on marine issues, with clear measureable targets to achieve ocean recovery and sustainability,” says Melissa Moore, MCS Senior Policy Officer. “The biodiversity and productivity of the world’s oceans are diminishing at an increasing rate. Globally some 90% of large fish species, like sharks, tuna and swordfish, have disappeared in the last few decades. Yet only 1.42% of the world’s oceans are nominally protected as ‘Marine Protected Areas, and less than 0.5% are fully protected Marine Reserves. This is frankly pathetic” MCS says the draft text must be amended by Ministers at Rio+20. It wants to see three key amendments: 1) A commitment to increasing Marine Protected Areas from just 1% to a more robust 30% where no damaging or extractive activities occur. The present proposal of 10% is not sufficient to maintain biodiversity. MCS is represented in Rio by the Marine Reserves Coalition - a group of NGOs who have come together to call for 30% Marine Reserves consisting of MCS, Blue Marine Foundation, Client Earth, Greenpeace, Pew and ZSL. 2) MCS says the recommitment to meet maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2015 while welcome, must be qualified to state BMSY i.e. biomass (total weight of fish) that can support harvest of the maximum sustainable yield. We also need strong commitments for the protecting the high seas and deep seas from fishing. 3) The draft text indicates a commitment to take action on litter, but unless this is measurable it will not achieve anything. We want Ministers to set a target of a 50% reduction in marine litter by 2020 (in line with the EC’s Marine Litter Task Group recommendations). “Recognising the huge problems of overfishing, marine pollution and the lack of marine protection is one thing, but actually turning those concerns into positive action in the coming years is quite another,” says Melissa Moore. “There is already concern that Rio+20 is only reaffirming weak commitments that have been made elsewhere. Ministers need to make strong clear measurable commitments if our oceans are to continue to provide for future generations.”

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