JIS News

Today, Monday, 8th June 2009, marks the first World Oceans Day. As Chairman of the National Council on Ocean and Coastal Zone Management (NCOCZM), I am particularly pleased that attention is being devoted to one of the most vital resources on our planet – the ocean.
The concept of World Oceans Day began in 1992 when more than 100 Heads of State and Government gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the first international Earth Summit, which was convened to address some of the most daunting problems facing the environment and, by extension, humanity. In December 2008, the United Nations resolved that beginning 2009, 8th June would be designated World Oceans Day.
The ocean generates most of the oxygen we breathe, regulates our climate, offers us medicinal remedies, and provides limitless inspiration. World Oceans Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on the role that the ocean plays in sustaining our livelihoods, to celebrate the various products the ocean has to offer us, and to find creative ways of easing the burden we place on the largest body of water on our planet.
As an island-state, the ocean is a critical factor in Jamaica’s quest to achieve sustainable development. Many foreigners exclusively associate Jamaica with its “sun, sea and sand” and, therefore, it is no surprise that tourism is the country’s number one foreign exchange earner. Given this and the number of Jamaicans actively involved in and benefitting from the fishing and shipping industries, it is incumbent upon us to preserve and protect this natural and valuable resource.
The world’s oceans are, however, in an alarming condition. Scientists claim that the ocean has never deteriorated so much and so quickly as it has in the last 5 years. Declining fish stocks, coral bleaching and marine pollution are some of the environmental horrors afflicting the oceans. In addition, global warming is adversely affecting ocean temperatures, the supply of nutrients from the land, ocean chemistry, food chains, ocean currents and extreme events such as hurricanes. As the climate warms, the health of the ocean deteriorates.
Here in Jamaica, we need to look no further than Kingston Harbour to find evidence of the poor state of the ocean and the effects on our immediate environment. The most visible manifestation is the degradation of the water quality. More often than not, these conditions are the result of poorly treated/untreated sewage, and industrial and household waste being dumped into the Harbour. There is also a noticeable decline in biodiversity, often caused by the presence of marine invasive species.
As we observe World Oceans Day, all Jamaicans should commit to preserving this vital resource. We should get involved at the national and individual levels and play our part and do all that we can to ensure that the coastal environment and the ocean around us are carefully nurtured and protected so as to effectively contribute to the sustainable development of the country.

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