(CMC)— Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries have supported a United Nations draft resolution on sustainable fisheries, as delegates reflected on how the coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic derailed what the UN said should have been a watershed year for international action on the world’s oceans.
Acting without a vote, the UN General Assembly adopted the draft resolution ‘Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments’.
By its terms, the UN said the assembly reaffirmed the importance of the long term conservation, management and sustainable use of living marine ocean resources and state obligations to cooperate to this end.
The UN said the assembly urged states to increase their reliance on scientific advice in developing, adopting and implementing conservation and management measures.
In addressing the general assembly, Belize’s representative, Sharon Lindo, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), pointed to various problems, from sea level rise to the collapse of marine biodiversity, that “imperil humanity’s collective future.”
She noted that the UN Secretary General’s latest report on the oceans and the law of the sea details how the simultaneous shocks of COVID 19 and the deterioration of ocean health have affected states’ ability to ensure food security and finance national development priorities.
“This unexpected cataclysm has clarified our global priorities and sparked increased cooperation,” said Lindo, noting the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as those in the Caribbean.
Calling for holistic national and international efforts, the Belize diplomat said the international community must seek to mitigate future harm by building back better.
“Any truly successful approach to COVID 19 recovery must involve environmentally and scientifically informed efforts to ensure more sustainable ocean activities that will tackle climate change and the need for equitable enjoyment of ocean resources,” said Lindo, adding that SIDS are already working on the plan to build back better.
Barbadian diplomat, Juliette Rosita Riley, speaking on behalf of Caricom and aligning with the AOSIS, noted that the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic have been diverting attention from the conservation of sustainable use of oceans.
She said the pandemic has brought Caricom economies to “a virtual halt, with severe consequences on the tourism industry.”
Riley said the impact on the global economy, including global supply and value chains, is expected to significantly delay the achievement of SDG 14 and its related targets.
She also voiced concern about the effects of COVID-19 on seafarers in particular, stating that the destabilization caused by the pandemic “will not compare to the devastation that will be caused by climate change, if no decisive action is taken.”