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Durban Oceans Day Discusses Marine Biodiversity Issues

Ocean News

Oceans Day 2011 addressed several issues related to marine biodiversity, including the ecosystem approach, payment for ecosystem services (PES), invasive marine species, ocean acidification, coral bleaching and fish stocks depletion.

Oceans Day took place on 3 December 2011, on the sidelines of the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa. It included a session on "climate change and African fisheries - ensuring food security and sustainable livelihoods," which highlighted the alarming state of fish stocks depletion, and the need to sustainably manage high seas fisheries as well as to phase out perverse subsidies to fisheries.

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, stressed the need to phase out perverse subsidies to the fisheries sector, green the shipping industry, reduce the movement of invasive marine species and tap into the potential of marine-based renewables.

Carol Turley, Senior Scientist, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK, described the effects of ocean acidification on marine organisms and ecosystems. She said the current speed and severity of ocean acidification was last experienced 60 million years ago, during the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

Mary Barton-Dock, Director, Environment Department, World Bank, stressed the need to tap private sector resources for ocean conservation, noting the private sector’s concerns regarding ocean productivity. She said the World Bank would be carrying out work on wealth-counting to value oceans and coastal ecosystem services.

The meeting forwarded a Chair's statement to COP 17, which summarizes the main issues discussed at the event, addresses the need for urgent and concerted actions emphasizing the central role of the oceans in climate change and addressing the urgent issues faced by coastal and island communities living at the frontlines of climate change, including sea level rise, coastal erosion, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification, among others.

Oceans Day was co-organized by the Global Ocean Forum, in association with a number of partners, including the Government of South Africa, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the GEF/UNDP/UN Environment Programme (UNEP) African LME projects.

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