Global Ocean Commission formed to fight degradation of the ocean

The Global Ocean Commission, an independent body of international leaders aiming to reverse degradation of the ocean,  has been launched to seek to restore it to full health and productivity.

The group chaired by former Costa Rican President (and Carbon War Room President) José María Figueres, South African cabinet minister Trevor Manuel and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, will bring together senior political figures including former Heads of State, Foreign Ministers and Finance Ministers from around the world, alongside business leaders and development specialists.

This year the Commission will analyse key threats to the ‘high seas’ – a large area of the ocean not owned by any one country but under severe and increasing pressure from overfishing, damage to important habitat, climate change and ocean acidification.
Global Ocean CommissionAhead of a UN General Assembly in 2014 to discuss on protection of high seas biodiversitybiodiversity Biological diversity in an environment as indicated by numbers of different species of plants and animals., the Commission will then publish their recommendations.

Commenting on the need for a reform of the high seas José María Figueres said: “The world urgently needs to find better ways of managing the oceans, to stop abuse of its precious resources and ensure its protection for present and future generations. The global ocean is essential to the health and well-being of each and every one of us. It provides about half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs about a quarter of our carbon dioxide emissions; but we are failing to manage it in ways that reflect its true value. The Global Ocean Commission will help highlight its worth in our lives and indicate ways in which we can ensure its resources are used sustainably.”

When discussing the importance of sea protection for the worldwide economy, David Miliband commented: “The UN Law of the Sea was a great achievement, but we urgently need a governance framework that delivers its aims and objectives for today’s global ocean.  The ocean provides food for billions of people, as well as generating substantial economic wealth, employment and trade; getting the governance right will lead to both economic and ecological gains.”

According to the Global Ocean Commission, recent findings that indicate the need for reform include:

  • About half of the world’s fish stocks are fished to their maximum sustainable level, while a further third are fished beyond that level, some to commercial extinction
  • Overfishing costs the global economy an estimated $50bn per year
  • Climate change is forcing the migration of some marine life away from its natural grounds, and appears to be reducing the amount of living space for some important fish species
  • The United Nations has concluded that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing fleets are implicated in acts of terrorism and trafficking of people (including children), drugs and weapons, with working conditions that can amount to forced labour.

Discussions are in progress regarding additional Commissioners to be in place by the time of the first Commission meeting in Cape Town in March 2013. For a full list of current confirmed commissioners and for more information, visit

Source:, 12th February 2013

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