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FAO Director-General Welcomes International Declaration on Oceans, Fisheries

17 August 2012

GLOBAL - Highlighting the important role that marine ecosystems play in feeding the world, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said that the responsible and sustainable management of oceans and coasts must become "a global priority."

The remarks came during a high-level panel discussion at the International Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and Willy Telavi, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, made remarks ahead of the panel, on which UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, and other experts participated along with Graziano da Silva.

The three-month-long Expo - whose theme was "The living ocean and coasts" - wrapped up on Sunday with panel participants endorsing the Yeosu Declaration, a policy document that aims to promote international cooperation and knowledge-sharing in order to improve stewardship of the marine environment. One of the declaration's key messages is the importance of marine resources to a new green economy.

Oceans provide food and income

In his remarks, Graziano da Silva emphasized the role of oceans in providing food and livelihoods to millions of people. "The livelihoods of 12 percent of the world's population depend directly or indirectly on fisheries and aquaculture," he said.

"They are a primary source of protein for 17 per cent of the world's population and nearly a quarter in low-income food-deficit countries. They are vital for the Zero Hunger Challenge launched by the Secretary-General at the Rio+20 Conference".

The FAO chief highlighted the need to strengthen governance of oceans, which should build off the principles contained in FAO's Code of Conduct for Responsible fisheries and the recommendations made by associated instruments as well as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

And development of small-scale fisheries must aim to benefit communities that rely on them for their livelihood, contributing more to poverty alleviation, he said.

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