World Oceans Day message from James A. Michel, former president of Seychelles, founder and patron of the James Michel Foundation |08 June 2021
‘The choices we make can go a long way in helping to protect the oceans’
“World Oceans Day 2021 has as its theme ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’. It launches a decade of challenges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 14, ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’.
“For us, surrounded as we are by the ocean, it is an opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of the oceans in maintaining all life on our planet: from single celled micro-organisms to the blue whales and, of course, humanity.
“Forty percent of the world’s population live within 100 kilometres of the shore line. Millions of families depend on the oceans and coastal regions either directly or indirectly for their livelihoods. The ocean is to them and to us all the source of:
• economic and recreational activities;
• nutrition through fish and other species we consume;
• oxygen and a contributor in the production of fresh water.
“Furthermore, the oceans regulate climate and weather patterns.
“Ironically, many human activities contribute to make the oceans that support us, the very reason for their spoliation. Overfishing and destructive fishing, over exploitation of marine resources, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to climate global warming causing rising sea level and more frequent storms, are among the culprits. They threaten coastal populations and ecosystems. They threaten Life itself.
“As islanders, we have experienced – and continue to experience – those adverse effects on our ocean caused by irresponsible and destructive practices. Yet, we can make a difference. There is hope. The possibilities are as extensive as the oceans themselves. Beyond the horizon there are infinite possibilities. They lie in solutions that will be sustainable. The ocean’s great resources should be used sustainably; the economic benefits should be distributed fairly and equitably; and the carbon footprint of all maritime states should be reduced. The solution is in not simply about making greater use of the sea but about making better use of it too. And this is at the core of the Blue Economy concept.
“That is why my Foundation has made ocean protection through sustainable use of marine resources and climate change awareness the central themes of our work. We advocate for marine spaces, including the high seas, to be recognised as needing protection. It is my personal commitment to push tirelessly for the setting up of more marine spaces as meaningful Marine Protected Areas and engage in the sustainable use of ocean resources.
“As we commemorate this World Oceans Day let us be reminded that our own actions and the choices we make at an individual level can go a long way in helping to protect the oceans which in turn support life and livelihoods.”
“Happy World Oceans Day!”
Press release from the James Michel Foundation