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World Oceans Day: Guterres Calls for More Action

  • Fish in the ocean. Jun. 9, 2023.

    Fish in the ocean. Jun. 9, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@SushiGourmetUK

Published 9 June 2023

"The ocean is the foundation of life... is our planet's greatest reservoir of biodiversity."

On Thursday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, advocated for heightened measures to safeguard the world's oceans.


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In commemoration of the annual World Ocean Day, the UN chief said in a video message, "The ocean is the foundation of life. It supplies the air we breathe and food we eat. It regulates our climate and weather. The ocean is our planet's greatest reservoir of biodiversity."

In his video speech, Guterres stated that an unsustainable level of extraction is being exercised upon more than one-third of the worldwide fish stocks, thereby underscoring the detrimental impacts of human activity upon the oceans, saying that "human activity is harming oceans," which constitute more than 70% of the Earth's surface.

According to Guterres, the ocean has been found to generate significant resources that are key elements in supporting communities, promoting economic growth, and sustaining human health; in addition, over one billion individuals exclusively depend on fish as their primary protein source around the world.

"We should be the ocean's best friend. But right now, humanity is its worst enemy," he said.

Guterres also stated that climate change caused by human activities has resulted in the progressive heating of the planet, thereby causing disturbances in weather patterns and oceanic currents, as well as modifications in marine ecosystems and their constituent species.

Furthermore, Guterres expressed his concerns regarding the imminent threat facing marine biodiversity. This is due to various factors that include overfishing, excessive exploitation, and the rising phenomenon of ocean acidification that is ultimately diminishing fish stocks. Additionally, pollutants such as chemicals, plastics, and human-generated waste have wreaked havoc on coastal waters, further exacerbating the crisis.

"But this year's World Oceans Day reminds us that the tides are changing," he said.

In his discourse, Guterres recalled that last December, countries collectively ratified an ambitious worldwide objective to preserve and maintain 30% of terrestrial, marine, and coastal ecosystems by the end of the decade.

"Realizing the great promise of these initiatives requires collective commitment," he said.

"This World Oceans Day, let's keep pushing for action. Today and every day, let's put the ocean first," he said.

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