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Indonesia - Ocean Summit

Protestors make presence felt at World Ocean conference

Article published on the 2009-05-11 Latest update 2009-05-11 13:47 TU

A group of environmental activists protest against illegal fishing and sea pollution as World Ocean Conference opens in Manado.Photo: REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad

A group of environmental activists protest against illegal fishing and sea pollution as World Ocean Conference opens in Manado.
Photo: REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad

A group of environmental activists shouted slogans in protest against illegal fishing and sea pollution, as the World Ocean Conference got underway. Seventy ocean experts from around the world are meeting for the next five days in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province.

A key global conference on oceans opened Monday in Indonesia. The conference is marked by a warning that climate change will accelerate the destruction of precious marine resources.

Environment, fisheries and resources officials and ministers from more than 70 countries are meeting over five days in the port of Manado in a bid to influence crucial climate change talks in Denmark in December.

Main concerns include how rising temperatures are having an effect on sea levels and dwindling fish stocks.

Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi said, "It is clear that our precious marine resources are under dire and increasing threat and that in many parts of the world climate change will accelerate their destruction."

Scientists also say rising temperatures and over-fishing could lead to the collapse of key species that feed millions and help preserve key ecosystems. Environmental group WWF says breeding populations of tuna will be wiped out in the Mediterranean in three years.

Indonesia, an archipelago nation of 17,000 islands, has seen massive damage to its marine ecosystems through pollution and illegal fishing, including the widespread use of bombs and cyanide.

Conference organisers say the meeting fills a much-overlooked gap in the global response to climate change, which has concentrated on cars, factories and forests while ignoring oceans. 

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, around 25 per cent of human greenhouse gas emissions between 2000 and 2007 were absorbed by the oceans, and that it's essential to get oceans on the international preservation agenda.

The choice of location for the conference underlines the basic problems. Despite massive preparations for the conference, rubbish and diesel oil clog the port of Manado, which is just kilometres from a famous reef reserve on Bunaken island.

On the sidelines of the conference, leaders from East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands are to launch a plan to save the Coral Triangle. With the highest marine biodiversity on earth, it is where half the world's coral reefs are found.