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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Closing the Science Gaps on What is Happening to the World's Oceans and Seas

UN Experts' Report to Governments Charts Ways Forward

New York/Nairobi/Paris, 31 August 2009 - The world's oceans and seas-covering 70 per cent of the planet - may soon be subject to the same kind of systematic scientific scrutiny as the globe's land surface.

Governments are meeting today to consider a series of options and recommendations on establishing just such a monitoring process. It is aimed at plugging significant and serious knowledge gaps that are undermining humanity's ability to better manage a wealth of natural and nature-based marine resources.

If governments give the process the green light, the first globally integrated oceans assessment could be delivered under the auspices of the United Nations by 2014.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The marine environment is facing a multiplicity of challenges. Some, such as the decline in fish stocks and land-based sources of pollution are persistent ones. Others, from the emergence of 'dead zones' and the impacts of climate change including acidification are rapidly emerging ones. A systematic assessment process is long overdue. This meeting in New York represents a tremendous opportunity for governments to put the best marine science at their service in order to make the best management choices over the coming years and decades."

"Significantly, a very real concern has been acknowledged today with the launch of the Assessment of Assessments report - the first ever comprehensive overview of the marine assessment landscape - which also considers socio-economic factors. The report is a clear signal that the world needs a more inclusive approach on its oceans and resources. It provides a framework and options for how this can be done," said Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

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