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World Ocean Council formed to foster sustainable seas

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For the first time ever representatives from the many and various industries and commercial organizations making use of the world ocean’s resources assembled at the United Nations in New York City Sept. 30 to form a global alliance whose aim is to “to develop leadership and collaboration for ocean sustainability and stewardship are critical to the future of the oceans.”

The inaugural meeting of the World Ocean Council included participants from the aquaculture, fisheries, oil and gas, maritime salvage and marine mining, as well other ocean, industries. UN Global Compact executive director Georg Kell and UN Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea director Vaclav Mikulka opened the session.

The ocean is more crowded with human activity than ever. The negative effects of this have been increasingly felt in recent decades. Conflicts over ocean use and rights are on the rise while estimates of seafood stocks and marine plant and animal populations are declining. The visible and non-visible signs of human produced chemical pollution and waste are also increasingly evident.

Moreover, the ocean’s serve as the planet’s key climate modulator and largest carbon sink, conditions that need to be as closely monitored as possible in light of increasing storm frequency and climate change.

“The principle business driver for constructively addressing sustainability is reducing risk –especially the threat of losing access to ocean space or resources– stressed industry representatives,” according to the WOC.

The Council intends to reduce risk and foster efforts that assure stable and responsible use of the world’s oceans and marine resources by making providing direct, easy access for industries to engage in international ocean policy processes and collaborate on identifying and implementing practical solutions.

“Collective efforts to share responsibility for the sustainable management of the seas are essential. The World Ocean Council is bringing together multiple sectors of ocean users to develop solutions that can lead to lasting improvements in ocean health,” commented Mike Boots, director of Seafood Choices Alliance.

“The extraordinary growth in ocean use is resulting in cumulative impacts to the marine environment at a global scale, perhaps even affecting the ocean’s crucial role in regulating climate,” stated Paul Holthus, the WOC’s first director.

“Private sector leadership and collaboration on ocean sustainability is essential to the health and future of the global marine ecosystem – and can lead to business benefits for responsible companies.”

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