“Collective failure” in marine conservation
For five days, the world’s oceans, their condition and their protection were the focus of a conference in Lisbon. In the final declaration, “collective failure” is named and more ambition in the search for solutions is called for.
In the beginning there were strong words: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke of an emergency in the seas, man-made problems and that humanity has a duty to solve the problems again. And climate envoy and former US Secretary of State John Kerry warned: “If we don’t find answers, this will all be rhetoric, these meetings will go to the dustbin of history because future generations will ask us, ‘What the hell have you done? Why didn’t you do it? Did you do the work?'”
Even before the conference, there were clear goals: by 2030, 30 percent of the seas should be protected, marine and coastal ecosystems protected, and the fishing industry more sustainable. Manuel Barange, head of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at the Food and Agriculture Organization, also reported progress: “The proportion of aquaculture is growing on all continents. The proportion not intended for direct human consumption is decreasing, which has made food production more efficient – that’s a blue transformation.”
Ban on deep-sea mining
A major concern of many NGOs is a comprehensive ban on deep-sea mining. Large international corporations rejected this at the first ocean conference in New York five years ago. Valuable raw materials such as manganese, nickel, copper and rare earths are at stake. Sean Owen from the environmental organization Deepsea Conservation argues in favor of a preventive ban: “There is no underwater mining yet, but it poses an enormous risk to the oceans. It would make things worse what we have already done: marine pollution, overfishing and climate change. This is a limit that we should not cross. We must protect our oceans and ensure that they recover.” Steffi Lemke in Lisbon: French President Emmanuel Macron called for laws against deep-sea mining during his appearance, which was a strong statement. She herself helped to ensure that the G7 had already agreed on major hurdles for deep-sea mining.
Environmentalists: A missed opportunity
Environmental organizations still see the ocean conference in Lisbon as a missed opportunity: the adopted “Lisbon Declaration” is non-binding. It was completely unclear whether announced voluntary measures would also be implemented. Greenpeace is taking the same line. The United Nations must finally adopt a binding agreement, said Laura Meller from the organization: “A strong global marine agreement that will enable us to create a network of marine protected areas to cover at least a third of the world’s oceans by 2030 The moment of truth will come in August in New York at the United Nations.”