Side Event: Statement by Ambassador Thoms on “Economic and Social benefits from the Oceans”

Feb 4, 2014

(Statement as delivered:)

"Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great privilege for me to welcome you all, also on behalf of the Permanent Missions of the Bahamas, Iceland, Mauritius, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

We are proud that the German House is providing the venue for today’s side event dedicated to the economic and social benefits from the Oceans. 

Oceans figure prominently on the agenda of this week’s Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. And this is, of course, rightly so. This week we will be hearing a lot about the importance of oceans and seas for mankind and how they are existentially crucial for many states, especially Small Island Developing States.

Still, their economic and social benefits are often underestimated. We think that this needs to be corrected if we want to achieve our common aim, namely to prominently incorporate oceans into the Sustainable Development Goals and the post 2015 Development Agenda.

Oceans are a basis for the creation of wealth and jobs – in fisheries and aquaculture, in tourism, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals, to name but a few.

But we need to acknowledge that increasing competition for marine space and the cumulative impact of human activities put more and more pressure on our marine ecosystems. In fact, overexploitation, pollution and mismanagement put the economic opportunities I just mentioned heavily at risk.

Unsustainable fishing practices for example exacerbate the risk of food crises and pose a threat especially to the poor, which, as a result, may lead to new security challenges.

What we need to achieve are healthy and resilient marine and coastal ecosystems able to safeguard job creation and new sources of growth and food security.

Let me mention that at the European Union level we have recently made an important step forward by reforming our Common Fisheries Policy. It aims to ensure that fishing and aquaculture are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. Its goal is to foster a dynamic fishing industry and ensure a fair standard of living for fishing communities.

At the same time we want to make sure that fishing practices do not harm the ability of fish populations to reproduce. The current policy stipulates that between 2015 and 2020 catch limits should be set that maintain fish stocks in the long term. It seeks to make fishing fleets more selective in what they catch. The practice of discarding unwanted fish will be fundamentally prohibited.

Our goal of sustainable fisheries will no longer be a mere promise but it will have a fixed date.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

To conclude I would like to reaffirm Germany’s strong commitment to our partnership with Small Island Developing States. We are looking forward to the upcoming Third International Conference on SIDS in Samoa, and we will work actively towards a good outcome of this important conference."

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