THE planet has one global ocean, though oceanographers and the countries of the world have traditionally divided it into four distinct regions: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic oceans.
An estimated 97 per cent of the world’s water is found in the ocean. Because of this, the ocean has considerable impact on weather, temperature, and the food supply of humans and other organisms.
It is against this background there must be commitment to preserving the world’s ocean and combating climate change, because the ocean sustains everybody. A greener, resilient maritime sector is essential for the needs of future generations, as the sector underpins all sustainable development.
On Thursday, the world marked the ‘World Ocean Day’, with an international theme ‘Planet Ocean: Tides Are Changing’, whereby people around the blue planet celebrate and honor the one shared ocean, that connects all.
As for the ocean, the regulatory framework must be fair, and must ensure no one is left behind as the industry moves towards even greener operations. Marine pollution is a transboundary problem.
The threats from certain types of pollution, such as marine plastic pollution, are seen at global scales and the impacts from this pollution, coupled with climate change, create an increasing threat for marine biodiversity, ecosystems, and consequently human wellbeing. It is our ocean, our responsibility and ultimately our future.
As well directed by the Vice-President, Dr Philip Mpango on Thursday, ministries and
communities should work together to safeguard the ocean for future generations. If
effective measures are not taken now, especially to control plastic waste pollution, the sea will be burdened by 2050. It is pertinent to heed Dr Mpango’s directive by forging new partnerships, combining diverse perspectives, knowledge, and resources to protect the ocean for future generations.
Reducing marine debris in the oceans is a key target under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. Together, people should help shipping and fisheries move to a low-plastics future. That can be done by identifying opportunities to prevent and reduce marine litter, including plastic litter, from within the maritime transport and fisheries sectors, and to decrease the use of plastics, including identifying opportunities to re-use and recycle plastics.
The success in protecting and conserving the ocean and its resources will be based on the ability to deal with emerging challenges. As Dr Mpango rightly put it, the Ministry of State
(Union and Environment) office should complete the blue economy policy and its implementation plan as soon as possible, and speed up the guidelines for environmental protection in the blue economy.
On the other side, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries should manage marine resources sustainability, after reviewing and revisiting the Fisheries Act and the Marine Parks and Reserves Act.
These acts have shown systemic, structural and operational deficiencies in managing and implementing the national fisheries policy declarations of 2015. It is a good thing that the Sixth Phase Government has realised that and it is working on it.
As part of the protection of marine resources, coastal and lake communities must be
involved and participate fully. The marine environment is of particular importance to them, since they are their first beneficiaries and victims.
The communities should also be involved in designing and preparing marine environment conservation projects. The fishermen should immediately and permanently quit utilising illegal fishing techniques and those communities should serve as the primary stewards of the marine resources in their areas for the benefit of current and future generations.