Saturday June 25, 2022

Holistic approach advocated to protect, manage oceans

June 14, 2022

Islamabad:Sounding the alarm over threats to life on earth by degeneration of the marine environment, experts from within the country and abroad in a discussion called for a holistic approach to the conservation, protection and management of oceans through strict enforcement of international laws, behavioural change and capacity-building initiatives, scientific innovations, and collaborations at national, regional, and global levels.

The hybrid seminar was jointly organised by the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA), Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad, and the Portuguese Embassy in Islamabad at Bahria University on 'Blue Talks: Enhancing the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Oceans and their Resources by Implementing International Laws'.

The keynote speaker, Prof Vasco Becker-Weinburg of the Portuguese Institute of the Law of the Sea stressed the need for the recognition of maritime environmental crimes within international law.

“The ocean is one and interconnects all humanity. That is why managing oceans requires a holistic approach that must include the implementation of international laws to address and eliminate environmental crimes," he said.

Prof Vasco highlighted how coastal communities are affected by those crimes, which, he complained, are not addressed by states due to a lack of direction and awareness. He insisted that the international laws and rules caused complex multijurisdictional challenges, which could cause conflicts. He also shed light on key legal challenges in the maritime environmental domain.

Principal secretary to Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Macharia Kamau stressed the importance of occasions and said several nations were built on the back of oceans. He urged stakeholders to act on the ocean front without delay at individual, communal and governmental levels by transforming their approach and employing scientific innovations.

IPS chairman Khalid Rahman said it was the time to do more for the ocean, which was one and interconnected. He identified the need for a behavioural change and a focus on oceans in all SDGs.

"Human activities related to the sea and shores are playing havoc with the health of oceans. This state of affairs requires good ocean governance," he said. Mr Rehman advocated educational and meaningful dialogues, seminars and debates to highlight those problems and find their solutions.

NIMA director-general Vice Admiral (retd) Abdul Aleem declared healthy oceans imperative for a good life on Earth and said to make the UN’s ‘Ocean Decade’ a success story, all countries should make concerted efforts to preserve oceans.

"We [Pakistan] must strive to become a maritime-responsible state and understand what actions must be taken for it," he said.

Director-General of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency Rear Admiral Foad Amin Baig underscored the need for developing and adopting a humanitarian and futuristic approach towards mitigating the ocean-related challenges, including the governance gaps, environmental degradation, lack of regional framework, and effective legislation.

He said the PMSA was strictly enforcing national and international laws on seas but there was a need for awareness and adherence to SDG deadlines. He also called for a change in the states' attitude towards oceans.

Ambassador of Portugal to Pakistan Paulo Neves Pocinho spoke about the upcoming UN Ocean Conference 2022 in Lisbon (June 27–July 1) and its significance in establishing a decisive action to move forward and forging a new international instrument to sustain and manage waters for the conservation of marine resources.

He said Portugal, as a maritime nation, had vast experience in marine affairs, which could benefit Pakistan in many ways.

Head of maritime sciences at the Bahria University Dr Asif Inam underlined the significance of collaborative efforts by regional stakeholders toward the conservation of the Indian Ocean’s resources and the minimization of transboundary issues.