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PROGRAMME 4: OCEANS

100. Introducing the programme on oceans, the Assistant Executive Director stated that Regional Seas would remain its central element with priority given to the consolidation of regional action plans for Eastern-Africa and the East Asian Seas and the adoption of the Action Plan for the South Asian Seas. Negotiations would continue on action plans for the Black Sea and the North-West Pacific. UNEP would also make further efforts to link existing regional seas action plans, to address global marine problems through the launching of a world-wide pollution monitoring programme and a programme to monitor the effects of climate change on the marine and coastal environment, and to promote measures for the protection of marine mammals.

101. Commending the programme, one representative referred to the activities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global Sea Level Monitoring Programme and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Mission to Planet Earth. Indicating the high priority his country gave to protecting its coastal zones and coastal waters, he invited UNEP to take national experience into account in addressing global marine and coastal issues. He also stated that his country would increase its participation in the implementation of the Caribbean Action Plan and would support the secretariat through direct contributions to the Caribbean Trust Fund.

102. Endorsing the priorities proposed for the programme and stressing the importance of a pragmatic approach and of international co-operation in this field, one representative held that the programme deserved a larger share of funds for the next biennium. She also expressed strong support for the establishment of global systems to monitor the marine environment. These systems would involve research, standardization and data exchange and would therefore require constant co-operation among UNEP, the Inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), WHO, WHO, INO, FAO and the Governments concerned. She added that because coastal zones and island ecosystems were particularly fragile, subject to a series of conflicting uses and strong human pressures, they merited special attention within the framework of the Regional Seas programme. She also endorsed UNEP's support of the South Pacific Action Plan. UNEP should continue to promote and guide the initial steps of the regional action plans, she added, and then withdraw gradually as the coastal States assumed greater collective responsibility for implementing them. As her Government made considerable contributions to the regional seas programme, she was particularly concerned about the lack of or late contributions of others, the more so because it was anticipated that UNEP would be launching new action plans.

103. One representative pointed out that the oceans programme received only 10 per cent of the Environment Fund while oceans covered more than 70 per cent of the planet. Consequently, the priority given to it should be reconsidered. He also noted that of the trust funds managed by UNEP, seven were devoted to Regional Seas: this demonstrated the great interest and support Governments attached to the programme. He recommended that UNEP increase its allocation to the regional seas programme in the next biennium.

104. One representative endorsed the support of others for the proposed oceans programme, particularly its climate change aspects. His own country's experience confirmed that the UNEP regional approach was the besway to protect the world's seas. His Government endorsed the self-financing aim of the programme and would welcome a report on progress towards this goal.105. One representative, stressing that the oceans formed part of the global commons, said that concern for them should parallel concern for the atmosphere. Listing the problems of the North Sea, he said that the rate of degradation of seas and coasts rivalled deforestation and desertification as an environmental problem. Therefore, his Government supported the proposal that funds for the oceans programme should be increased for the biennium 1990-1991.

106. Another representative endorsed this view and stressed that marine pollution was best tackled by national measures complemented by regional and international co-operation, especially in reducing pollution from land-based sources. He strongly advocated the elaboration of an action plan for the protection of small cetaceans.

107. While echoing the support of others for the oceans programme, one representative said that the Action Plan for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment and Coastal Areas of the West and Central African Region was seriously hampered by a shortage of funds because the participating States faced serious economic problems. The Action Plan needed greater financial support from the international community. Its priorities had to be set carefully, as the funds might not cover all the agreed activities. Coastal erosion, he observed, should be a high priority because many coastal towns were gradually disappearing into the sea. It was also important to harmonize national legislation with the Abidjan and Basel Conventions and to strengthen the network for marine pollution monitoring.

108. Another representative also appealed for contributions to the Trust Fund for the Action Plan for West and Central Africa and stressed the seriousness of coastal erosion in the region. The project on pollution monitoring, he added, was being implemented successfully with the assistance of FAO, WHO and IAEA; another priority project focused on contingency planning for pollution accidents. Yet another representative called for political and financial support for this Action Plan, saying that the countries of West and Central Africa were trapped between terrestrial desertification and a new form of desertification in the sea. The richest fisheries of West Africa were declining. He urged UNEP to execute the UNDP project for the study of the highly polluted Bay of Dakar and warned that unless action were taken now, emergency assistance plans would have to be developed.

109. The representative of Kuwait, the host country of the Secretariat of the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME), expressed support for the programme and reported that the Kuwait Action Plan was entering a new era after eight years of war, with new protocols on exploration and exploitation of the continental shelf and on pollution from land-based sources. Within the recently approved plan for surveillance. environmental assessment and the clearance of wrecks and other war-related objects, UNEP could play a major role. other areas of co-operation with UNEP might include the formulation of guidelines for the development and management of coastal areas, training in marine pollution assessment and coastal management, and monitoring sea-level rise in the ROPHE area as a contribution to the global climate impact programme.

110. Several representatives cited the levels of support for Regional Seas activities through trust funds as evidence of the confidence the programme had inspired. One endorsed the need to assess the damage and clean up marine regions that had suffered extensive pollution from recent military conflict, and he asked UNEP to promote international assistance for this purpose. He said that the Red Sea, as a semi-closed body of water with heavy maritime traffic, bordered by developing countries which lacked resources, was a sea in need of UNEP's help. The users of this sea should contribute to its environmental protection. Growing oil traffic increased the risk of pollution, but the investment required to prepare for such accidents was beyond the reach of any riparian State. UNEP's help was needed to assemble inventories of the equipment, facilities and experts available, as well as for the development of institutional arrangements to borrow or lease such equipment.

111. One representative said that the Mediterranean Action Plan (H"), through pressure on the coastal states, contributed effectively to the reduction of pollution in the Mediterranean basin. His country supported a new protocol on the exploration and exploitation of the sea bed and would double its present contribution to the Environment Fund. Another representative suggested refocusing M" through a series of pilot projects on integrated coastal zones.

112. Commending UNEP's role in the development of the South Pacific Action Plan under the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), one representative expressed satisfaction with the decision of the recent meeting of the SPREP Steering Committee that the Plan should continue to be considered the South Pacific component of the Regional Seas programme. The forthcoming UNEP-sponsored intergovernmental meeting on climate impact in the South Pacific would stimulate the countries of that region to participate in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He also stressed the importance of maintaining biological diversity in the marine environment, pointing out the dangers of over-fishing, siltation and drift gill-net fishing, the last of which was devastating South Pacific marine resources.

113. Another representative requested that UNEP resume full substantive and financial support to SPREP. He, too expressed concern about the drift gill-net fishing practised by certain countries in the South Pacific region.

114. Several representatives asked UNEP to consider the development of a regional seas programme for the North-West Pacific and one requested that UNEP, in co-operation with the East-West Center, convene an expert meeting on marine pollution in the region as part of the preparation for the development of an action plan for the protection of the North-West Pacific region.

115. Another representative requested faster implementation of work agreed in the framework of the Eastern African Action Plan, including contingency planning for marine pollution emergencies, fisheries-related projects, environmental impact assessment, coastal erosion and research on the sources, levels and effects of pollutants.

116. Thanking UNEP for assistance received through the South-East Pacific Action Plan, one representative emphasized the increasing importance of the Regional Seas programme because of its relevance to climate impactstudies. Another representative said that the Plan had provided training on environmental impact assessments vital to the countries of the region.117. One representative said that the proposed convention on preserving biological diversity should include the marine environment. Re added that the Oceans programme required stronger financial support and that UNEP should pay more attention to the problem of pollution in the world's oceans, which were the lungs of the planet and which reduced climate fluctuations. He announced his country's willingness to participate in the Regional Seas program and said that it was ready to propose a series of projects relevant to the Baltic, the Black Sea and the oceans of the Far East.

118. The observer for IOC highlighted the close co-operation between UNEP and the Commission on projects for monitoring regional and global marine pollution, for developing pollution assessment and monitoring techniques and for training experts and technicians. UREP, WKO and IOC were currently developing a global project to monitor the effects of climate change on the marine and coastal environment. Because IOC and UREP jointly provided the technical secretariat for various groups of experts under the Technical Committee for Global Investigations on Pollution in the Marine Environment (GIPME), IOC would welcome UMU'9 co-sponsorship of the Committee.

119. The observer for IUCE emphasized his organization's co-operation with UREP on issues related to the oceans programme, adding that IUCN would continue supporting the development and implementation of regional protocols on conservation, particularly in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Central America and the Indian Ocean regions. IUCE had co-operated with UNEP in producing the directories of coral reefs and hoped also to co-operate in preparing directories relevant to other coastal ecosystems, such an mangroves, an a contribution to regional protocol and to work on global climate change and sea level rise. The joint UIWIIUCNIWWF World Conservation Monitoring Centre could provide a global database to support protocols and an evaluation of the implications of climate change and sea level rise. Another area of co-operation with UREP was the implementation of the Marine Ha ~ la Action Plan.

120. The observer for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Environment Programme (PE~) spoke of the need for more intensive participation by Governments in the Program and stressed the importance of continuing co-operation between PERSCA and the Regional Seas programme.

121. The observer for the Permanent South Pacific Commission (CPPS), referring to the South-east Pacific Action Plan, said that UNEP's support had helped the countries involved to develop a network of 42 laboratories, to train 1,100 experts and to adopt four legal agreements.

122. The observer for Greenpeace International. expressing support for UNEP's regional approach, called for more regional protocols on dumping of wastes at sea and on pollution from land-based sources, as well as for the adoption of precautionary principles in these protocol and the elimination of destructive fishing methods, such as the drift gill-nets.

123. In summarizing the debate, the Assistant Executive Director thanked the speakers for their endorsement of the proposed oceans programme and noted that if Governments increased their contributions, allocations to the programme as one of the concentration areas could increase. He also noted that UREP Intended to participate fully in the activities of SPREP as part of theregional seas programme. In reference to other points, the secretariat also informed the Committee that as no funds were currently budgeted for new regional programmes like the one suggested for the North-West Pacific, money for such programmes would have to be found elsewhere. A meeting to prepare an action plan for small cetaceans was being planned. The problem of drift gill-net fishing would be examined jointly with FAO. Arrangements for securing pollution control equipment would be discussed with INO.