APEC Ministers Call for Urgent Action on Marine Ecosystems

25 October 2010

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) oceans-related ministers meeting in Paracas, Peru say that urgent action is needed to help improve the conservation of marine ecosystems in the Asia-Pacific region.

Delegates said that 80 percent of the world's fish population is over-exploited and pointed to several studies that show that the health of the marine environment and its resources are in a state of continuous degradation.

A major focus of the 11-12 October meeting was the role of fisheries in supporting food security in the Asia-Pacific region. Delegates highlighted the important role of trade in ocean resources for strengthening food security in the region and discussed the trade and investment challenges for the sector. Areas of concern included tariffs, the role of eco-certification or eco-labelling, increased sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements, traceability, subsidies, and overcapacity.

The ministers stressed the need for free and open trade and investment to ensure the fisheries industry can maximise its impact on tackling food security in the region.

The ministers also discussed environmental issues that are leading to the degradation of the marine ecosystem - especially climate change. Jorge Villasante, Peru's Minister of Production, said that the effects of global warming on ocean life are irreversible and put marine species at risk.

"There is no denying that the planet's oceans are in crisis due to climate change, destructive fishing practices, increased illegal fishing and over-fishing," Villasante said. "These are major threats to the marine environment."

Those attending the meeting, which is being held under the theme "Healthy Oceans and Fisheries Management towards Food Security," looked at climate change has altered the migration routes of fish poses significant challenges on fisheries and other marine industries. These changes include the movement of marine species from tropical seas toward cooler waters to avoid rising water temperatures in certain areas.

The outcome of the Paracas meeting - dubbed the 3rd APEC Oceans-related Ministerial Meeting - was presented to the first APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security, which was held from 16-17 October, in Niigata, Japan. APEC leaders will also hear the results when they meet in Yokohama, Japan in November.

ICTSD Reporting.

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