Report: KEEPING WORLD’S SEAS, COASTS HEALTHY

29 March 2012

THE report, "Green Economy in a Blue World," released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Manila recently, highlighted the huge potential of the marine sector not only to help boost economic growth, but also to alleviate poverty for millions worldwide who are dependent on the fishing industry.

Released five months before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 20, 2012, in Brazil, the report, however, warned that the world's transition to a low-carbon, green economy would not be possible unless the seas and oceans play a key role. UNEP said: "Oceans are a key pillar for countries in their development and fight to tackle poverty. But the wide range of ecosystem services, including food security, provided by marine and coastal environments are today under unprecedented pressure." Human impacts are taking their toll on the oceans, the report noted, saying that overfishing, pollution from farming and industry, including coral reefs and mangroves, affect world's fish stocks, 32 percent depleted by years of overfishing and poor coastal management.

Fishing is central to the livelihood and food security of people in developing world; one of five people worldwide depends on fish as main source of protein. The depletion of fisheries poses a major threat to food supply of millions of people, the report said.

While overfishing reduces fish stocks, pollution from fertilizer use in farming is a problem, as fertilizer washes into the sea, resulting in growth of algae which sucks up oxygen in the waters and causes fish to "drown." UNEP experts said there are over 500 oxygen-deprived "dead-zones" in waters around the world. In the Philippines, it has been noted that 49 percent of fertilizer used ended up being washed into the seas.

The United Nations report serves as a reminder for nations and peoples to cooperate in maintaining a clean, ecologically robust marine ecosystems, to benefit ocean industries and businesses. Better-managed seas and coasts would help boost economic growth and reduce poverty and environmental degradation. CONGRATULATIONS!