Like many people in the Pacific, every day I witness first-hand the continuing impact of piracy, overfishing and climate change on ocean health and island prosperity. Coming from Tokelau, I know how important it is for small island states that we reverse ocean decline.
Please join Mission Ocean and sign my petition to protect the high seas and restore ocean health.
Providing us with food, fresh water, energy, medicine, the oxygen in every second breath we take, and even our holidays, a healthy ocean is essential for all life on Earth.
But for too long we’ve taken out too many fish, polluted indiscriminately, and damaged vulnerable habitats on the seabed. We are pushing our ocean system to the point of collapse, and risking our own health and prosperity.
Marine and coastal resources are worth US$3 trillion a year – around 5% of the world’s GDP – and worldwide, 350 million jobs are linked to the ocean while 97% of fishers live in developing countries.
But without the enforcement of strong laws to protect a living ocean, a minority will continue to abuse the freedom of the high seas, plunder the riches that lie beneath the waves, take more than a fair share, and benefit at the expense of the rest of us, especially the poorest.
The good news is that we have a fantastic chance to turn things around.
In September this year, the United Nations (UN) will begin discussing the future of the high seas and how they should be governed. This won’t happen again any time soon so we need to make the most of the opportunity now.
The high seas – made up of international waters and covering 45% of the Earth – belong to us all, yet resemble a failed state beyond the jurisdiction of any government. No one is taking overall responsibility, with the alarming result that the health of the entire ocean is in severe decline.
It is time to extend the rule of law to the deep blue half of our planet.We need a new international agreement (under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) to secure ocean health and the sustainable and equitable use and conservation of high seas resources.
This will help ensure we have enough food for everyone, equitable access to new medicines from deep sea organisms to fight cancer and other serious diseases, resilience in the face of the worst impacts of climate change, and protection of valuable marine habitats from destructive industries.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon is committed to ocean health and protection but he needs our support so that he is empowered in September to call on world leaders to develop this new agreement.
Please join the mission for a healthy, living ocean and ask Ban Ki-moon to join our call for high seas protection and ocean health.
Other versions of this petition:
Africa - by Trevor Manuel (South Africa)
Brazil - by Paulo Guilherme "Pinguim" Alves Cavalcanti
Canada - by Paul Martin
China - by Victor Chu (Hong Kong)
France - by Pascal Lamy
France - by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Germany - by Hannes Jaenicke
India - by Ratan Tata
Japan - by Global Ocean Commission
Latin America - by José María Figueres (Costa Rica) and Andrés Velasco (Chile)
Middle East - by Global Ocean Commission
Russia - by Global Ocean Commission
Spain - by Cristina Narbona
South Pacific - by Foua Toloa (Tokelau)
UK - by David Miliband
International - by Global Ocean Commission
I know that you are personally committed to ocean health and protection.
I do not need to remind you that the ocean supplies the oxygen in every second breath we take, or that billions of us rely on it for food, fresh water, energy, transport and medicine, or that it covers 70% of the Earth's surface and supports all life on Earth.
And as valuable resources such as medicines will increasingly come from the deep sea in the future, I am sure you agree we must ensure marine resources are protected and managed responsibly and fairly, and that we all benefit, including future generations.
Three billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. Marine and coastal resources are worth US$3 trillion a year – around 5% of the world’s GDP – and worldwide, 350 million jobs are linked to the ocean while 97% of fishers live in developing countries.
Scientists are telling us that we are pushing our ocean system to the point of collapse, and without proper governance, we are putting food security, global prosperity, and our own health and livelihoods at risk.
I understand that the UN General Assembly is to take a decision on whether to negotiate a new agreement on high seas protection at its session starting on September 24, 2014.
I support the many States that have already called for the adoption of an implementing agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that supports the restoration of ocean productivity, guards against irresponsible exploitation, prioritises ocean health, enhances equitable sharing of benefits, and allows for the creation of marine protected areas on the high seas to replenish fish stocks.
In your opening address to world leaders at the General Assembly in September, please add my voice to those of millions of others who want to empower you and the members of the United Nations to open negotiations for the sustainable use and conservation of the high seas.
It’s time we took proper care of our ocean. Please call for a new agreement for high seas protection and ocean health.