Video Message by Peter Thomson, the President of the General Assembly at North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Bergen, Norway
7 – 9 March 2017
H.E Mr Per Sandberg, Minister of Fisheries Norway
Director General Li Yong, UNIDO
Ladies and Gentleman
Greetings from New York!
Thank you to the North Atlantic Seafood Forum for inviting me to address this gathering of key players in the global seafood industry.
As an integral element of the Ocean equation, you know better than most that the Ocean is the lifeblood of our planet.
A healthy Ocean fuels sustainable businesses, thriving communities and a dynamic economy. An unhealthy one does the opposite.
I come from Fiji in The South Pacific and have spent much of my life beside, on and under the Ocean. Thus the decline of Ocean’s health, be that by the way of marine pollution, ocean acidification, declining fish stocks or degrading ecosystems is something I take personally.
In September 2015, the world addressed the state of the Ocean by including an Ocean’s goal in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda that was adopted by the leaders of all 193 Member States of the United Nations.
The 2030 Agenda contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals, one of which, SDG14, is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of the Ocean and its resources.
Taken in tandem with other Goals, SDG 14 responds to the scientific research that demonstrates so clearly that the Ocean is facing simultaneous pressures that threaten its health and sustainability.
Marine pollution is cluttering the Ocean and choking our marine-life, while immense gyres of garbage circulate out in the high seas.
Hypoxic dead zones are growing along our coasts, and overfishing and IUU fishing are threatening the sustainability of fish stocks.
The impacts of climate change are further aggravating the situation, by raising sea levels, exacerbating Ocean acidification, bleaching coral reefs, and increasing global water temperatures to the detriment of marine life, people’s habitats, food security, and livelihoods.
Sustainable Development Goal 14 contains targets that address these and other threats to the Ocean’s health.
The United Nations Ocean Conference, to be convened from 5-9 June in New York this year will generate the global momentum required to drive implementation of SDG 14.
Presided over by the Governments of Sweden and Fiji, The Ocean Conference it is the only process to support the faithful implementation of SDG14.
As such it represents our best opportunity to reverse the cycle of decline in which the Ocean is caught.
The Conference is open to all stakeholders – from across Government, international organisations, civil society, the private sector, and the scientific and academic communities. Two weeks ago at the Preparatory Meeting for the Conference in New York, we witnessed exceptionally high-levels of enthusiasm from a very broad-range of stakeholders. The momentum is with us.
The conference will deliver innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships to put in motion necessary action and comprehensive solutions.
We are also hosting a Registry for Voluntary Commitments that was launched last month.
Today, I am making a special plea to the Seafood Industry to get behind The Ocean Conference.
I encourage you all to participate in The Ocean Conference, to mobilize concrete partnerships to address the targets of SDG14 and to register your concrete and ambitious voluntary commitments for action on the conference website.
The success or failure of SDG14 will determine whether our children and all those who come after them will be able to enjoy the beauty and the sustenance that Ocean’s bounty provided to us in our youth. Let us not deny them.
We have a unique opportunity to galvanize action to remedy matters at The Ocean Conference this June. I hope to see a strong representation of the Seafood Industry at the conference in support of the implementation of SDG14 and will welcome you there.