ENVIRONMENT – Happy World Oceans Day everybody

ENVIRONMENT - Happy World Oceans Day everybody

The United Nations will officially observe World Oceans Day for the first time today, June 8, with the theme of Our Oceans, Our Responsibility, and to commemorate the observance, it will light New York’s Empire State Building in ocean blue.

While World Oceans Day has been celebrated by many countries since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, said the UN General Assembly which decided last year to make the day an officially recognised UN observance.

The UN said its official designation of World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.

“The oceans cover about two-thirds of the surface of the Earth and affect all. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, absorb carbon dioxide emissions, provide food and nutrients, regulate climate, and are important economically for countries that rely on tourism, fishing and other marine resources for income,” the UN said. “Unfortunately, the vitality of the world’s oceans is under threat due to human activity and climate change,” it added.

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in a message for World Oceans Day, said: “Human activities are taking a terrible toll on the world’s oceans and seas. Vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as corals and important fisheries, are being damaged by over-exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing practices, invasive alien species and marine pollution, especially from land-based sources.”

Ban also said that increased sea temperatures, sea-level rise and ocean acidification caused by climate change pose a further threat to marine life, coastal and island communities, and national economies.

“The theme of World Oceans Day,” Ban added, “emphasises our individual and collective duty to protect the marine environment a and carefully manage its resources.”

In commemoration of World Oceans Day at the UN’s New York Headquarters, Ambassador Hasjim Djalal, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia, and Professor David Freestone, Lobingier Visiting Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence, George Washington University Law School, and Visiting Professor, United Nations University, will brief the press on current challenges regarding the oceans.

This will be followed by a panel discussion on the theme Our oceans, our responsibility, followed by a question-and-answer session. And then the screening of the documentary film A Sea Change on ocean acidification and followed by a question-and-answer session.

In other observances, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN will be launching the International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-sea Fisheries in the High Seas in three languages, for use by States and regional fisheries management organisations.

Other specialised agencies, organisations, bodies, programmes and funds of the UN system will be holding various events and activities to raise awareness of oceans issues on World Oceans Day.

The Empire State Building in New York City will be lit in blue to mark the first observance of World Oceans Day.

For further information, www.un.org/Depts/los/reference_files/worldoceansday.htm