Today, Oceana and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) release our final scorecard evaluating the progress of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) on protecting the world's oceans. Although there has been some progress on ocean protection in the Plan of Implementation, the lack of reference to the oceans as part of the WSSD's Commitment to Sustainable Development in the Political Declaration is a serious disappointment and a major missed opportunity. “Despite many positive press reports last week that the first major 'agreement' of the Summit was reached to restore depleted fisheries and reduce marine pollution from vessels, the Heads of State failed to make any commitment to the oceans in their Political Declaration,” said Ellen Pikitch, PhD, WCS spokesperson.
Oceana and WCS have awarded the Summit only a 70 percent score because the work of ensuring sustainable oceans is far from complete. “The failure of the Summit to issue a strong Political Declaration highlighting the need to prioritize implementation the oceans text demonstrates the lack of political will and leadership necessary to save the oceans and the circle of life that affects us all,” said Dawn M. Martin from Oceana.
Other portions of the Plan also fail to address a series of issues that could ultimately affect the sustainability of the oceans, such as renewable energy, trade, corporate accountability and biodiversity protection. The 70 percent in the scorecard is based on progress made on key issues that directly affect the oceans in the Plan of Implementation such as the call for the elimination of destructive fishing practices and subsidies that promote illegal fishing and over capacity; establishment of marine protected areas and sustainable fishing limits; reduction of pollution and environmental damage caused by ships; and increased monitoring and use of environmental impact assessments.
The stakes are high for the world's food supply. Twenty-five percent of the world's fish catch - 44 billion pounds of fish and thousands of ocean animals - are unintentionally caught and discarded, dead and dying, each year from destructive fishing practices. Such wasted catch are a large part of the reason why more than 70 percent of marine fish species worldwide need urgent action to prevent population declines. Pollution from ships, including oil, toxic chemicals, garbage, and sewage, is a major threat to ocean wildlife. Toxic air pollution that falls into the oceans and polluted runoff from land also seriously harm sea life.
Oceana is a nonprofit international ocean conservation organization bringing together dedicated people from around the world to build a movement to save the oceans through public policy advocacy, science, economics, legal action, grassroots mobilization, and public education. The New York Bronx Zoo based Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild lands through careful science, international conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks.
Scoring Guide: Possible points for political statement = 25; Possible points for each debated section = 5; Total possible points = 100; Bold Text = Recently negotiated language