“When one looks at the ocean now, there’s a state of rapid decline, and we need to address [it]. We understand what causes it, and we must address it and try and restore the ocean,” Trevor Manuel, co-chair of the Global Ocean Commission, told CNBC Africa.
“There are two very particular reasons: the first is that there are about three billion mouths that are kept open by income from the sea, [and] 97 per cent of these are in the developing world. It’s very important that [as] Africans, we have a special voice and we articulate the interest.”
Manuel added that the urgency of the need to rescue and restore the world’s oceans needed to be heightened, particularly as the world relied on these water bodies for a range of resources, including oxygen and the absorption of carbon dioxide.
“There is urgency, and it’s an urgency that is in fact spawned by the rate in development in the world. There are particular issues that we need to mindful of and the first is the demand for resources is impacting food, oil and gas,” Manuel explained.
As technology allows for deeper exploration of oceans, fish stocks are expected to decline even more.
The involvement of governance is therefore a core element of resolving the global ocean crisis.
Other issues that threaten the world’s oceans and their ocean economy are overfishing, seabed mining and climate change.
According to the Global Ocean Commission, the delpletion of fish stocks alone is costing the global economy an estimated 50 billion dollars per year.
(READ MORE: Ocean economies require an ecosystem approach)
“We need to appeal to the wide cross section of people and government to respond to the challenge. Since the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Law of the Sea, it is there but it has too many institutions trying to implement it. What we need is a single body that is directly accountable for what happens in the oceans, so that we not only reverse the decline but we also work to regenerate the life of the ocean,” said Manuel.
He added that this regeneration can however only be done through government, as the areas in need of rescue are outside exclusive economic zones, and roughly 200 multiple miles from the coast.
“Beyond that, three quarters of the globe are outside of that, and it’s all of our responsibility. That is why we have to call the United Nations to action, and only member states can do it, which is why it’s a cause that must be taken up by everybody,” Manuel explained.