PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF PALAU TO THE UNITED NATIONS

 

Statement by His Excellency Mr. Stuart Beck

Ambassador for Oceans and Seas

of the Republic of Palau

 

Intergovernmental Negotiations

on "Sustainable Development Goals and Targets"

for the Post-2015 Development Agenda

23 - 27 March 2015

 

Statement of Palau on Goal 14 (Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources)

New York, 24 March 2015

 

Mr. Co-facilitators;

 

Palau would like to use this opportunity to discuss Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and, more particularly, on Goal 14. 5, to conserve, by 2020 at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas…based upon best scientific information.

 

Palau wishes to share the outcome of the recent High Level Meeting at the UN entitled “One Ocean: Achieving Sustainability through Sanctuaries”, hosted by Palau, The Bahamas, Italy, Monaco, Israel, Fiji and the European Union.

 

At that meeting, keynoted by President Remengesau of Palau, leading ocean scientists from China, Israel, the United Kingdom, Argentina and the United States made the point that marine sanctuaries, if of sufficient size, and if properly located, can regenerate the world’s dwindling fishstocks, everywhere on the planet. These scientists are convinced that, without this intervention, there will simply be no fish left within decades, causing a catastrophic crisis in food security.

 

Palau is now working to create a large scale Marine Protected Area, comprised of our entire EEZ, which would end unsustainable commercial and industrial fishing in all of Palau. This would be the first time that such a comprehensive approach has been attempted by any country, and Palau is grateful for the support of Italy and Monaco in helping to make this aspiration a reality.

 

But as the President said at the UN:

 

“No matter how much we do to create our sanctuary in Palau it will take an international commitment to accomplish the wider goal of regenerating the whole ocean, for the benefit of all humanity”

 

Goal 14 will be the bedrock of such an international commitment.  It will only be effective, however, if the targets and indicators transcend mere national perspectives. It is simply not enough to ask each country in the world to put aside 10% of its coastal and marine areas for protection. What is needed is an international effort, based on science, to coordinate all of the world’s sanctuaries (and there are at least 130 member states who enjoy the benefits of national sanctuaries) so the entire ocean is “zoned” to permit the nurseries of marine life to survive and prosper.  No nation or group of nations, no matter how well intentioned, can accomplish this. Once this international effort is in place, and once fisheries are made sustainable, we can look forward to the use of the regenerated oceans, far into the future.

 

It is critically important, as we move forward to implement Goal 14, that the targets and indicators we develop do not track only national efforts to create sanctuaries but, rather, provide an international context which will guide member states and regions to become part of a wider, more ambitious plan, created by scientists. This is a challenging and unique task, since it entails more than the sum of national waters, but also, the high seas. Creativity and determination will be required, but the alternative, an empty ocean, is an outcome that is too dangerous to contemplate.

 

Thank you.