New global ocean organization may raise Cain

A new ocean non-governmental organization may create global hell for those governments that are giving short shrift to protection of the oceans.

Known as the Global Ocean Commission, the organization announced this week has an impressive Board and an even more impressive list of funders. The GOC aims to reverse degradation of the oceans and restore them to full health and productivity. Funding comes from heavyweights including Pew Environment Group, Somerville College at Oxford University, Adessium Foundation, and Oceans 5. Representing Canada on the Board of Directors is former Prime Minister Paul Martin. Another board name that may be familiar to Canadians is former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband. The activist group intends to report on how the vast high seas, which stretch 200 nautical miles from coasts, benefit from little legal protection in the face of rising overfishing, habitat destruction, climate change and ocean acidification. The first Board meeting will be held in Cape Town in March.

Miliband has stated

‘The UN Law of the Sea was a great achievement, but we urgently need a governance framework that delivers its aims and objectives for today’s global ocean. The ocean provides food for billions of people, as well as generating substantial economic wealth, employment and trade; getting the governance right will lead to both economic and ecological gains. The Global Ocean Commission will be a catalyst for the developments we need. 2014 is a critical year of decision for the ocean, when changes should be made that will set the ocean on the path to sustainable health and productivity.

The oceans are the ecological equivalent of the financial crisis. The long-term costs of the mismanagement of our oceans are at least as great as long-term costs of the mismanagement of the financial system. We are living as if there are three or four planets instead of one, and you can’t get away with that.’

The Global Ocean Commission plans to focus on

  • overfishing;
  • climate change;
  • seabed mining;
  • emerging uses;
  • impacts; and
  • options for change.

A group at this level will likely be primarily a paper mill but papers which focus on government actions or inactions will likely still have some value in pushing governments towards some action.

GallonDaily will be watching with interest. News from the Global Ocean Commission can be found at

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