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World Oceans Day 2024

Published on Monday, June 10, 2024

World Oceans Day 2024

Catalyzing Action for our Ocean & Climate

As we observe World Oceans Day our focus is on our glorious oceans. Here in Jamaica we are fortunate to be surrounded by the stunning blue ocean and we are able to appreciate first-hand the beauty, importance, and vitality of the world’s oceans, which cover more than 70 per cent of our planet’s surface and are home to millions of species of flora and fauna.
Yet, as an island state we also depend on our ocean for food, transport, leisure, and economic success. This dependence means we need to strike a careful balance between protecting and preserving our oceans while living our lives over and within them.
I believe that, together, this is a challenge we can meet. This year’s World Oceans Day theme is: ‘Catalyzing action for our ocean and climate’. We must strive to safeguard our oceans and environment for our children, our grandchildren, and the generations to come. What we do today and over the coming years will be crucial for their future and their world.
I am proud of how youth leadership, such as Earth Ambassadeurs, is helping to drive the transformative change needed for our blue planet. On local, national, and international levels, young people are engaging in action and policy change to create a better future. We applaud these young climate advocates.
What are we doing to support their efforts? Firstly, Jamaica, represented by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, is an active member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is the United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.
Jamaica was present at last year’s ground-breaking IMO meeting where the Marine Environment and Protection Committee (MEPC) agreed ambitious new decarbonisation goals for shipping, aiming to reach Net Zero on or about 2050 and with milestone markers in between.
Achieving this consensus between representatives from 176 member states across the world, all with very differing perspectives, is a major milestone. It says a lot for the international maritime community that together they can agree on these goals and can commit to putting in place measures to ensure they are achieved. There is much work to be done and we are in the early stages of this journey, but the commitment is real and the enthusiasm palpable. I and other members of Jamaica’s delegation will be present at the IMO as we work to achieve our decarbonisation targets and will play an active part in discussions, ensuring that the voices of Jamaica, the Caribbean region, and Small Island Developing States are heard and our unique situations are understood at international level.
Jamaica is an active participant across all areas of the IMO’s work, which supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The IMO has an integral role in meeting the targets set out by the United Nations, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 14, which relates to the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources.
IMO has, over many decades, developed and adopted mandatory rules, recommendations and guidelines, in order to protect the marine environment from any potential negative impact of shipping activities. Shipping is a key user of the oceans. Cargo ships transport more than 90 per cent of global trade by volume, delivering essential goods and commodities to communities across the globe. In Jamaica’s case more than 90 per cent of our trade takes place by sea in ships.
It is the most environmentally sustainable form of transport, but of course more can, and must, be done to ensure shipping remains a clean mode of transport for generations to come.
Jamaica is fully committed to supporting the IMO’s efforts to protect and preserve our marine environment. We support, adopt and implement the key Conventions protecting our oceans, including the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). MARPOL covers the prevention of ship-based oil pollution, by chemicals carried in bulk, by noxious substances in packaged form, by sewage and garbage from ships. The Convention was expanded in 1997 to regulate air pollution and emissions from ships.
Other IMO treaties cover oil pollution preparedness, response and cooperation, control of harmful anti-fouling systems on ships, prevention of the potentially devastating effects of the spread of invasive harmful aquatic organisms carried by ships’ ballast water, and safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships. Several global partnership projects executed by IMO address a range of issues, including action on marine litter and projects aiming to restrict the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species. Other IMO measures protect marine mammals from ship strikes, while guidance has been adopted to reduce underwater noise from ships.
Jamaica plays a crucial leadership role in the Caribbean in the areas of maritime administration, training and port related developments, as well as through our participation in the work of the IMO. Our work spans many projects and partnerships.
As a port and coastal state, Jamaica collaborates with our Caribbean neighbours through the Caribbean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control, which aims to eliminate sub-standard shipping in our region through an active ship inspection programme.
Jamaica continues to support the work of the United Nations in the area of ocean governance by hosting the International Seabed Authority, which was established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982. The UNCLOS Convention is the constitution of the seas and is fundamental within the maritime industry. It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas, establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources. It also embodies, in one instrument, traditional rules for the uses of the oceans and, at the same time, introduces legal concepts and regimes and addresses concerns. The Convention also provides the framework for further development of specific areas of the law of the sea. Jamaica is also a committed supporter of the UN’s High Seas Treaty which is a landmark agreement that will reinforce efforts to protect marine biodiversity.
Important work is being undertaken in and around Jamaica by our government, by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, and within the wider Caribbean maritime community to accelerate the protection of our ocean and climate. I am happy to discuss this further with you during the day.
World Oceans Day unites us all in our efforts to protect our beautiful blue planet. The Maritime Authority of Jamaica is proud to play our part in observing World Oceans Day.


BERTRAND SMITH
Director General, Maritime Authority of Jamaica

 

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