UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday called on world leaders to take stronger action to protect the planet's seas, warning that pollution, unsustainable exploitation, climate change and acidification threaten the very foundations of all life and the global economy.
"We need practical, timely action at the national, regional and global levels to improve the health of the oceans, and to recover and sustain ocean resources," he told "The High Seas, Our Future! Conference" in a message read out in Paris by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova.
"It is time to take stronger, more pragmatic and more concerted effort to protect our oceans," he said, stressing that oceans were heating up and their acidification was adversely affecting on marine life, while rising sea levels threatened to re-draw the global map at the expense of hundreds of millions of people, often the most vulnerable.
He highlighted the critical role oceans play "for the health of our planet, for all life, and for the global economy."
The secretary-general said he vividly remembered his meeting last year in New York with the crew of the UN-backed Tara Expedition, which travelled 70,000 miles across the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic and Indian oceans investigating the effects of global warming on biodiversity and marine life, particularly focusing on marine plankton.
"The Tara team and other civil society organizations are critical to raising global awareness of the importance of oceans and the challenges they face," he concluded.
"If we work together - the United Nations system, governments and businesses, civil society actors and individuals - we can find sustainable ways to support life and protect our planet and our precious oceans."