By Abigael Joshua
Environment stakeholders have called for the urgent need to address threat to ocean and aquatic lives, in order to sustain biodiversity in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region.
The stakeholders made the call on Monday in Abuja at the ECOWAS Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) meeting.
Dr Iziaq Salako, Minister of State for Environment, said that prompt ratification of the high-seas treaty and effective engagement in its implementation was an urgent priority for the preservation of our oceans.
“Our oceans are under threat today more than ever before with sea level rise; temperature increases, acidification, pollution, biodiversity loss, unsustainable exploitation of marine resources, depletion of fish stocks, the near disappearance of coral reefs, and the destruction of fragile ecosystems.
“The urgent need to address this threat has led Nigeria and its sister ECOWAS member Nations to unite and call on the international community to be more ambitious in its response.
“Nigeria as we once again gather to find solutions to the biodiversity and climate crisis that is gripping our planet, our subregion not exempted,” the minister said.
According to him, the oceans require strong protection that can only be achieved through a new treaty for the conservation and management of marine life in the high seas.
“This treaty must ensure that human activities are managed to prevent significant adverse impacts with vigorous oversight mechanisms.
“The meeting you are attending today provides a pathway to support ECOWAS countries in reaching this important goal.
“Our appeal for an Ambitious Global Response to the Biodiversity Crisis is urgent and focused. Through the urgent appeal, we had identified several measures as essential, including the global designation of 30 per cent of land and oceans areas as protected by 2030,” Salako said.
According to Salako, “oday, only seven per cent of the world’s oceans are protected, and there are no comprehensive legal mechanisms in place to protect the high seas and the deep seabed areas, the shared international areas of oceans that lie beyond national jurisdictions and that include almost 70 per cent of the global ocean.
“We are proud that through Nigeria’s rallying efforts, the 55 member States of the African Union have reached a consensus to support ratifying at the earliest feasible date, the new high-seas treaty, as enshrined in Addis Ababa Declaration adopted at the 19th ordinary session of Africa Ministerial Conference on the Environment.
Also speaking, Mr Joseph Turay, a representative of the Ministry of Environment Sierra Leone, said that standing idle while our communities go impoverished and hungry would result in an unimaginable future.
“This appeal represents a fundamental truth, which is that we must take robust action now, to protect our planet.
“We must urgently protect biodiversity in order to preserve ecosystem services vital to human wellbeing and the livelihood of our local communities.
“We are ready to act to protect our biodiversity, our ecosystem services, our magical and unique environments.
“We are ready to strengthen and expand our protected areas, we are ready to protect and recover our wild species,” Turay said.
Similarly, Mr Bernard Koffi, ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, described the treaty as important, and urged the ECOWAS countries to conserve and protect biodiversity.
He said the ECOWAS Commission expected commitment to the implementation of the BBNJ treaty on the conservation of oceans in the region. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Rabiu Sani-Ali
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