The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Robert V. Percival, Jolene Lin and William Piermattei
Chapter 7: Protecting gifts from the sea: ocean governance for living marine resources after Rio +20
A group of 22 leaders in the scientific community from around the globe serving on the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Foresight Panel selected a list of 21 critical environmental issues recognized by the scientific community but largely ignored by the policy community. The UNEP intended to use the identified threats to create priorities for itself and to urge action from other UN agencies. Number thirteen on the list of pressing issues is the ‘potential collapse of oceanic systems’ with a concrete policy recommendation to create ‘integrated ocean governance’ through the formation of a ‘global body that can ensure compliance with the Law of the Sea treaty … [with] new rules, regulations and procedures where necessary to implement these regulations in an ecosystem-based and precautionary manner. ’Marine environmental statistics are daunting and demoralizing given the sheer expanse of the problems. In 2008, 85 per cent of the marine fisheries were fully exploited, over exploited, or depleted. Ocean acidification is proliferating. Algal blooms occur regularly in some parts of the world. Unregulated land-based pollution results in irreversible changes in seawater chemistry. The distribution and abundance of marine species is changing in response to climate change and species are being lost. In 2011, marine science experts expect not just commercial extinction but also the loss of entire marine ecosystems such as coral reefs within one human generation. Fewer than 50 per cent of countries provide effective control over the high-seas fishing vessels flying their flags.
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