The Chagos Conservation Trust welcomes the launch of the Global Oceans Commission today, which aims to highlight the degradation of our oceans and trigger action to protect the high seas.
The independent body is made up of influential politicians from around the world and co-chaired by former Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.
In 2010 David Miliband announced the Marine Reserve protecting the Chagos archipelago. This site provides a haven for overfished species. It is also uniquely valuable for measuring the impact of climate change on reef ecosystems as there are very few pollutants present that can thwart research elsewhere.
The Commission will assess threats to biodiversity in international waters including overfishing, habitat loss, climate change and ocean acidification. Findings will inform UN talks on protecting marine biodiversity in 2014.
Describing the situation on BBC Radio Four’s ‘Today’ programme as “an emergency for future generations”, David Miliband noted that overfishing is the primary threat to marine life, with over 80% of fish stocks either fully or over exploited.
International waters are currently regulated by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. The Commission will review this treaty in light of new threats including industrial scale fishing and increased undersea mining.
The Commission’s website states that overfishing costs the global economy an estimated $50bn per year, and that “getting the governance right will lead to both economic and ecological gains”.
Coming soon: Look out for updates on this month’s research expedition to Chagos.