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Reflections on the UN’s World Oceans Day

Today (June 8, 2021) is United Nations World Oceans Day. This year’s official theme ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’ is most welcome. IWMC campaigns everyday of every year in defense of the livelihoods that depend upon making responsible commercial use of the oceans. But it strikes IWMC that this year’s worthy theme contradicts last year’s ‘Innovation for a sustainable ocean‘. That theme abused the word innovation by focusing instead on stopping existing and proposed activities on ‘30% of our lands and oceans by 2030 (‘30×30’)’.

In other words, last year the UN used World Oceans Day to campaign to put off limits vast regions of the world’s oceans to ‘save the oceans and combat global warming’. Exactly how marine exclusion zones contribute to preventing global warming is never explained. Perhaps because there’s no science to back the claim, as Ray Hilborn argues in MPAs aren’t the answer to ocean biodiversity, sustainability efforts.

But for sure, if 30 percent of the 70 percent of the world’s surface that’s oceanic were placed out of bounds to commerce and innovation, the impact would be catastrophic. The big losers would be livelihoods dependent on fishers, tourism, commercial shipping, pharmaceuticals, deep-sea mining, oil and gas. But this year, the UN wants us to believe that they do indeed care about people’s livelihoods. So please forgive IWMC for, reluctantly, casting doubt on the efficacy of this year’s World Oceans Days’ theme.

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