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World Ocean Day 8th June, 2017

Thursday, 08 June 2017
Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica
United Nations, New York

Jamaica joins the international community in celebrating World Ocean Day 2017.  Not only do oceans connect us globally, but they house vast resources which support people, communities and countries; providing life and livelihoods.  The Ocean’s health is fundamental to the preservation of life on the planet.   

The celebration of World Oceans Day this year is based on the theme “Our Oceans, Our Future”, with the objective of encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter.  I ask that each Jamaican, be it at home or in industry, at work or at play, find ways to reduce our reliance on plastics and creative solutions for their replacement.  I also encourage us all to deal with our waste more responsibly.  In this way, we will each do our part to secure a healthier ocean and a better future for all.

As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), with a maritime area 22 times our land mass, safeguarding the ocean is of particular importance to Jamaica.  Our reliance on the maritime space for food, jobs, economic growth and even recreation, must not be taken for granted. Threats to the marine environment, such as overfishing, pollution and climate change, present a clear and present danger to realising our developmental aspirations, and to life as we know it. 

We must join forces with other members of the global community to significantly reduce and ultimately, eradicate these threats.  It is no coincidence that the high-level United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development (the Ocean Conference) is being held at this time.  The international community recognises that mankind’s well-being, and indeed survival, depend on the health of the ocean and is moving very deliberately to take action to that end.   Jamaica is pleased to be an active participant in this Conference and endorses the Call to Action, which is intended to unite the international community around a common cause to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.  This is a necessary and urgent response, if we are to ensure that present and future generations can claim their right to enjoy the ocean and its resources.