September 24, 2021


PRETORIA, South Africa will expand its marine protected areas by 24 new sites while expanding its scientific research as part of the Indian Ocean Rim Expedition.

That was among the commitments delivered to the United Nations Oceans Conference underway in New York by Environment Minister Edna Molewa.

While focusing on the economic benefits of the country's oceans, Molewa stressed the need to balance the health of the world's oceans and seas with the increasing demands being made on this resource.

In addition, she also reflected on the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It's a vibrant, sustainable blue economy that everyone seeks.

As the world mobilizes to ensure our oceans and seas remain healthy and sustainable, as Minister Edna Molewa explains: We are so excited in fact that this conference has been called at the UN level, at the highest level, where nations meet for us to actually get to discuss and make commitments importantly, not just talk, but make commitments, voluntary commitments, to actually go back and actually implement those voluntary commitments.

"That's when we shall all have to act against pollution of the oceans because if we continue as we do right now, indeed the pollution will outweigh the species of fish and even the living organisms in the ocean, and that's very bad. It means we would not have food, food security would be threatened, the ocean's health itself, because it needs to be a healthy space out there in the oceans.

Experts have suggested that if action is not taken, plastic pollution alone would outweigh fish in our seas by 2050, while ocean acidification due to increased CO2 levels could disturb delicate marine ecosystems beyond repair:

Plastics, microbicides, plastics that ends up in the oceans, the fish species that actually get diminished, wipes out completely, many other species in the water get diminished or wiped out completely so it is important that we actually minimize the use of plastic and actually recycle and reuse them instead of getting them to end up in the ocean. Whatever kind of pollution whether it's hard or soft pollution, internally on land we must ensure that we have land based actions that stop any flow into the oceans.

She reiterated her government's disappointment at the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, expressing hopes that the White House and President Donald Trump will get back to their senses.

I think it's important that he gets best advice from those people who were working here and not those who were not present. For instance, this Paris Agreement is an agreement that is not imbalanced, it does favour the American people and America itself. It is not that it does as we hear President Trump saying that it does not favour America.

"No. If anything really it is the best deal, it could have been worse by the way because America has been part of the countries that started emissions pre industrialized period, before any other developing country could even begin the biggest culprit I'm saying, so the biggest culprit has been made to benefit and to be more or less at the same par with others. We gave in as developing countries not as culprits, and we said yes we are part of the world, yes we will take our part. But the biggest culprit is saying not me, it is really not something that is very helpful.

The Oceans Conference will adopt a plan of action at its conclusion on Friday.