Celebrated on 22 May 2012, the theme for this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity was marine biodiversity. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked the day by highlighting the fragile state of the world’s oceans, and urging greater protection for marine biodiversity.
Ban’s message noted the impact of commercial over-exploitation of the world’s fish stocks, with more than half of global fisheries exhausted and a further third depleted, and important marine environments such as seagrasses, mangroves and coral reefs estimated to have been destroyed. He said some progress is being made, particularly regarding the establishment of large-scale marine reserves and documenting of areas of ecological or biological significance in open-ocean and deep-sea habitats.
Ban added that the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) will provide an opportunity to build on such advances. “Rio+20 must galvanize action to improve the management and conservation of oceans through initiatives by the United Nations, governments and other partners to curb overfishing, expand marine protected areas and reduce ocean pollution and the impact of climate change,” he said.
He also called for action at the national, regional and global levels to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Target of conserving 10% of marine and coastal areas by 2020.