Drastic action needed to save oceans, experts warn ahead of UN summit

By Mar Marín

Ericeira, Portugal, Jun 13 (EFE).- Experts and fishermen have called for drastic action to save the planet’s oceans, without which Earth would not be habitable.

The urgent plea comes ahead of the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon.

“Politicians must listen to scientists,” Nuria Baylina, director of Biology and Conservation at the Lisbon Oceanarium, tells Efe.

“It is urgent to take measures” on activities, such as fishing and emissions, the Portuguese biologist added, saying “drastic action is necessary.”

Emanuel Gonçalves, scientific officer and administrator of the Oceano Azul Foundation, says the topic of saving the oceans has dropped down the agenda in climate talks, but that their health is crucial for human survival.

“Without the ocean, the planet would not be habitable,” the Portuguese expert tells Efe.

“The situation is grave and serious and requires the international community to come together to find solutions,” he adds.


More than 20 heads of state and government are expected to convene at the UN 2022 Ocean Conference (June 27 – July 1) in Lisbon, where delegations from 193 countries will draw out an action plan to protect the seas.

Gonçalves says action is needed immediately, “or we are going to have a very different planet at the end of the century.”

“We are going to leave our children in a very difficult situation,” the expert adds. “There are tipping points from which the system cannot return.”


Gonçalves says that agreements are vital to achieving the sustainable development goal of protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030.

But if past experiences are anything to go by, international consensus will not be easy.

So far the international community has failed to meet Sustainable Development Goal 14, part of a blueprint for an environmental future that was outlined by the UN in 2015 which aimed to protect 10% of the oceans by 2020 and to ban certain types of fishing.

The Lisbon agenda will reinforce commitments of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development which include reducing marine pollution and expanding protected waters to 30%.

“Now we cannot fail,” warns Gonçalves.


Fisherman Luis António Jerónimo says time is running out, but the 45-year-old says he has not lost all hope.

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