Fourth Our Ocean Conference on Marine Conservation begins in Malta
At the fourth Our Ocean Conference, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks will press for the designation of international marine protected areas on the high seas. Oceans and seas are still the least protected areas on Earth. The United Nations agreed to place a minimum of 10 per cent of the marine surface under protection by 2020. This year's Our Ocean Conference, due to take place from 5 to 6 October 2017 in St Julian's in Malta, is being organised by the European Commission.
The topics under discussion this year will be marine protected areas, climate change, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, maritime security and sustainable blue economy. As in previous years, participating states will be making announcements on voluntary commitments to protect the world's oceans.
Minister Hendricks commented: "The world's oceans are suffering because of marine pollution, overfishing and climate change. We must therefore continue to strengthen the international commitment for a more sustainable use of our oceans and seas. Germany laid an important foundation in this context by initiating the G7 and G20 action plans on marine litter. The next step we now need to take is to designate internationally recognised marine protected areas on the high seas."
For many years now, Germany and the EU have been pushing for negotiations on a binding implementing agreement to ensure the protection of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 does provide for more general provisions in this field but there are considerable gaps in implementation.
At the fourth Our Ocean Conference Germany will commit to supporting the identification of ecologically and biologically significant marine areas to improve the conservation of marine areas on the high seas. Furthermore, Federal Environment Minister Hendricks will inform the meeting about the G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter which was initiated under the German G20 Presidency. Germany will make 30 million euros available for the implementation of this plan and other marine conservation projects. At the third Our Ocean conference in 2016, the German government pledged to draw up the action plan.
Marine conservation as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI): The German government currently supports 35 projects through its International Climate Initiative to help preserve coastal and marine biodiversity and to strengthen the adaptability of coastal residents to the impacts of climate change, for instance through mangrove forest restoration and conservation. The Federal Environment Ministry has allocated 191 million euros to support these projects.