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The ocean also needs the help of Estonians

02.06.2017

Next week, leaders of all countries, marine researchers, and representatives of organisations related to the protection of the marine environment will gather in New York for the first time in history to discuss the protection of the ocean. During this high-level meeting, activities will be specified for improving the condition of the ocean. All residents, companies or organisations of Estonia can also contribute to protecting the ocean within the framework of the conference.

Human activities have a major impact on approximately 40% of the ocean, resulting in polluted sea, decreasing fish resources, and destroyed habitats. In order to save the condition of the ocean, the UN Ocean Conference will be held in New York on 5–9 June, where the delegation of Estonia will also participate. The head of the delegation is Marko Pomerants, Minister of the Environment of Estonia, who is also holding the role of vice president of the conference.

“As the Minister of the Environment of a coastal country, I hope that Estonians are eager to contribute to the protection of the ocean and respond to the call to write down their promises. These can include any activities, from voluntary maintenance of beaches to the development of new products and technologies that are friendly to the marine environment,” said Pomerants.

For example, the entire company personnel can promise to stop using plastic dishes in their organisation. The most important task is to concentrate on the activities improving the condition of the sea, e.g. stop (or minimise) using the products with a high phosphorus and nitrogen content, as well as products which result in marine pollution or contain hazardous substances. Promises can be entered at the web page of the conference until 9 June: https://oceanconference.un.org/commitments

Bilateral meetings and dialogues will also be held at the conference to establish partnerships and create a basis for cooperation aiming to provide assistance to the countries in need. For example, several more vulnerable developing countries, but also small countries located on the Pacific Islands, are facing difficulties due to the rising sea level, deterioration of the condition of the ocean, and loss of species and habitats – economic activities are decelerating, the number of tourists is decreasing etc.

Marko Pomerants, Minister of the Environment, and the Prime Minister of Grenada will co-chair a partnership dialogue between the countries, seeking to find solutions for ensuring opportunities for the population of small water-locked countries in dealing with coastal fishing and using the sea in such way that it would not endanger the condition of the marine environment, but would be economically beneficial for the local population.
In Estonia, the solution of such problems is based on the principles of protecting the marine environment in the EU and Baltic Sea region as well as on the principles of Blue Economy – the latter means the use of the sea by preventing the deterioration of the condition of the marine environment. This includes the development of environmentally friendly aquaculture, more versatile use of marine resources in economic activities, development of technologies related to the sea, environmentally sound marine transport, tourism etc.

At the conference, the Minister of the Environment is also planning to make proposals for a better organisation of the protection of the marine environment, for minimising the pollution of the marine environment and for the protection of marine ecosystems.

As a result of the Ocean Conference, a common agreement of all countries will be concluded for implementing specific measures for the better protection of the oceans. This shall include a list of activities for all countries and a call for the provision of assistance to the countries, whose possibilities for improving the condition of the marine environment are limited due to climate change and other global problems.

Approximately 7,000–8,000 participants are expected at the conference, including heads of states, presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, ministers, members of the royal court etc.

The conference on the sustainable development of oceans are organised by the UN for the first time, as no relevant global objectives have been set and nothing has been done to improve the conditions of oceans in the past. In 2015, all countries of the world agreed on new objectives for sustainable development. The objective no. 14 of sustainable development is focused only on the protection of the ocean.

Some facts:

• Approximately ¾ of the area of the globe is covered by sea water. This is 97% of all water available on Earth, thereby being the largest habitat in the world.
• Over 3 billion people depend on the sea and coastal waters, as this ensures their income and main living conditions.
• Annual value of marine resources is equivalent to approximately 3 trillion dollars, i.e. approximately 5% of total global economic production.
• Approximately 200,000 different species have been defined in the oceans, but the actual number of species may reach millions.
• Approximately 30% of carbon dioxide (CO2) of human origin also reaches the sea water, which contributes to global warming.
• The ocean is a major source of protein, over 3 billion people receive their main protein from the sea.
• Marine fishing provides employment directly to more than 200 million people

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