Call to invest in a sustainable ocean management system

Oceans have a direct impact on weather, climate change and the food chain system, says UN expert

“We know more about the surface of Mars than the depths of the ocean or complete knowledge about the ecosystem when it plays such a vital role in providing oxygen to sustain life through plankton, weather, climate change and the likes. Nations have to invest in a sustainable ocean management system not just through observation but also through more through data and information and demonstrate the value chain,” said executive secretary, Inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO and assistant DG of UNESCO Vladimir Ryabinin on Wednesday.

Delivering the 23rd Foundation Day lecture for Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) on ‘UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade)’ virtually, he said the global community must wake up to the reality of excessive sea level rise in the coastal regions every year and the fact that the carbon absorption capacity has been decreasing correspondingly from cent per cent to 28% and now 22%. “This is known to scientists but not to governments,” he remarked.

Sustainable ocean management is vital because it has a direct impact on weather, climate change and the food chain system. There are vast knowledge gaps about marine life in the depths of the Indian Ocean. In fact, during the massive international search for the missing Malaysian airliner, scientists went with equipment to scan the ocean depths to about 4,000 metres but realised it was much more at 6,000 metres which threw up several challenges. Satellite imagery could help make precise estimates of the ocean depths and topography too, he said.

UNESCO has declared 2021-2030 as ‘Ocean Decade’ with focus on sustainable development models for clean, healthy, safe, productive and engaging oceans by developing multi-hazard warning systems, acting on pollution, deep sea mining and so on. Oceans can be tapped for development of new medicines and can also be the source of energy like wind, tidal and thermal energy.

Rare opportunity

“It will provide a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to create a new foundation, across the science-policy interface, strengthen management of oceans and coasts for the benefit of humanity through international scientific research and innovative technologies,” he said.

Earlier, MoES secretary M. Rajeevan lauded INCOIS services in providing the best possible ocean advisories for society, scientific community and administrators like tsunami warnings, storm surge alerts, fisheries information, tides movement etc., directly benefiting seven lakh coastal communities.

INCOIS Director T. Srinivasa Kumar said the institute was gearing up for enhancing the observation, operational and research capabilities with introduction of high resolution sensors, unified forecasting systems and new tools to understand the oceanic systems. Senior scientist B. V. Satyanarayana proposed a vote of thanks.

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