Image: Coastal Zone Management Unit

A call has gone out for Caribbean people to pay more attention to the relevant principles for sound ocean governance.

This was underscored by Minister of Agriculture, Senator Haynesley Benn. He was delivering the feature address this morning at the official opening of the "International Oceans Institute Training Module: Law of the Sea and Principled Ocean Governance," hosted by the Caribbean Law Institute Centre, at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.

Senator Benn said: "… in making ocean policy, we have had to confront the traditional views that the oceans were inexhaustible and impervious to use by humans."?? He explained "…fishery resources can, and often are over-exploited [and] in addition to depleting stocks, fishing was having a direct and indirect effect on the ecosystems in which it was taking place".

Mr. Benn lamented that in many ways humans were degrading the oceans through non-extractive uses, especially by construction in coastal areas, and land-based impacts in watersheds and coastal zones. The Agriculture Minister, therefore, suggested it was obvious that ocean governance presented a unique set of issues relating to sustainability of use; scale and accessibility, and jurisdiction and ownership of resources.

"Our very survival as inhabitants of small islands and low lying countries depends on it [ocean governance] and our intervention and involvement must be at all three critical levels: national, regional and global," he expounded.

??Emphasising that Barbados had been active in this arena for a long time, Minister Benn, stressed that this country took ocean governance seriously.

"We have, therefore, worked to build an effective system of ocean governance, based on a solid scientific base from its very inception.?? Our small geographic size did not allow us the luxury of a second chance if we failed to make good decisions using sound scientific principles".

In this regard, the Senator called on the "vast stores of expertise from universities across the world to work with us in implementing these objectives – the increasing acidification of our oceans, decimation of our fisheries, the bleaching and erosion of our beaches, as eloquent arguments in favour of urgent governance reforms".

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