Oceans’ Demise a Life and Death Issue, Says President

MANADO, North Sulawesi ~ The destruction of the world’s oceans due to climate change and overuse is a “life and death issue” for humanity, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Thursday.

“We must come to the rescue of the oceans. We must save them from the ravages of abuse and over-exploitation by humankind, from the havoc due to pollution and dire effects of climate change,” Yudhoyono said at a global conference here on oceans.

“This is a life and death issue for the community of nations, including Indonesia, [which] prides itself on being the world’s largest archipelago.”

Ministers and officials from more than 70 countries were meeting in Manado for the World Ocean Conference, the first global meeting on the relationship between oceans and climate change.

Nations aimed to pass a joint-declaration aimed at influencing the direction of talks in the Danish capital Copenhagen in December, which will discuss a new global climate change agreement to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol.

“Today it is time for the world to hear yet another important message: that we can only survive the 21st century if we are united in caring for and preserving our oceans,” Yudhoyono said.

The president made no mention of his own country’s massive failings in conserving its environment, ranging from rampant illegal logging to over-fishing and the destruction of coral reefs through the use of bombs.

Greenhouse gas emissions from extensive logging of Indonesia’s tropical forests have pushed Indonesia to become the world’s third-largest emitter behind the United States and China.

Illegal fishing and pollution are widespread, with garbage and diesel oil clogging the waters at Manado’s harbour close to the conference venue.

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