CARICOM should do everything in its power to ensure that the high seas – two-thirds of ocean space over which no one state has authority – remains healthy and protected.
This is according to Barbados’ Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Juliette Babb-Riley, who was speaking at the third CARICOM workshop on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.
Regional representatives attended the three-day workshop held at the Tamarind Hotel, in St. James, to discuss a new international agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which focuses on the protection of the high seas.
“We are negotiating a treaty with over 100 developed and developing countries from different regions, and we are trying to reach consensus on what would be the test of this new instrument.
“Biologically and ecologically, there are no boundaries. Marine species move between areas that are under the jurisdiction of states and those that are outside the national jurisdiction of states. So, if you want to properly conserve your marine resources which fall under your area, you need to pay attention to what is happening beyond areas of national jurisdiction. This agreement is seeking to do that, to make sure we do what is in our power to have a healthy ocean,” she explained.
During the workshop held from July 16 to 18, the participants discussed topics relevant to the conservation of the ocean, such as area-based management tools, which include marine protected areas; environmental impact assessments; capacity building and technology transfer; and access and benefit sharing of marine genetic resources. These four issues are the elements under negotiation that will form the core of the new treaty.
Ms. Babb-Riley stated that collectively these things should facilitate better management of areas beyond national jurisdiction and the management of resources within national jurisdiction.
She also stressed that the contents of the treaty were of the utmost importance to Barbados, as well as Caribbean and Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Barbados has already signed a number of conventions which deal with the protection and preservation of the marine environment, however they specifically relate to areas of national jurisdiction.
Also speaking at the workshop was Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey.
He assured participants that Government was committed to the preservation and protection of the marine environment, along with the sustainable use of its resources.
“Barbados, like its sister CARICOM SIDS, has intrinsic geographical, cultural, social and economic ties to the coastal and marine environment,” he stated.
He shared that the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy was established to give greater and more coherent focus to the way the marine environment was treated.
Mr. Humphrey added that the ministry would continue to pay close attention to the rehabilitation of coastal infrastructure, and was looking to introduce legislation to designate specific marine protected areas, which should facilitate the replenishment of fish and other marine resources.
The third CARICOM Regional Workshop on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction was hosted by Government, in collaboration with The Pew Charitable Trusts, the High Seas Alliance and Islands First.
The aim was to prepare regional stakeholders for the next treaty negotiating session of the intergovernmental conference at UN Headquarters in August.