G8 Leaders Pledge Marine Protection

Leaders of the world’s eight largest industrialized democracies wound up their annual three day meeting today in Evian on the shore of Lake Geneva, with a joint statement that emphasizes environmental responsibility and sustainable development.

Leaders of the G8 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – pledged the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and urgent restoration and maintenance of global fish stocks.

"There is growing pressure on the marine environment," the G8 leaders acknowledged. "The decline in marine biodiversity and the depletion of fish stocks are of increasing concern, as is the use of Flags of Convenience, especially for fishing vessels, as a means to avoid management conservation measures," they said.

The sinking of the oil tanker "Prestige" off the coast of Spain in November 2002, said the leaders, "has again demonstrated that tanker safety and pollution prevention have to be further improved."

In addition, the leaders "agreed to take all necessary and appropriate steps to strengthen international maritime safety." They also agreed to accelerate the adoption of guidelines on places of refuge for vessels in distress such as the "Prestige."

Calling for support of the International Maritime Organization’s efforts to strengthen maritime safety, the G8 action plan urges acceleration of the phaseout of single hull oil tankers, "mandatory pilotage" in narrow and restricted waters in conformity with International Maritime Organization rules, and enhanced compensation funds to benefit victims of oil pollution.

In their statement, the G8 leaders said that in addition to efforts to improve the safety regimes for tankers, they are "committed to act on the significant environmental threat posed by large cargo vessels and their bunkers," and they are encouraging the adoption of liability provisions including, where appropriate, through the ratification of international liability conventions.

Noting that "global sustainable development and poverty reduction requires healthier and more sustainably managed oceans and seas," the G8 leaders promised to maintain the productivity and biodiversity of important and vulnerable marine and coastal areas, including on the high seas.

The establishment of ecosystem networks of marine protected areas by 2012 in their own waters and regions is a priority under the action plan the leaders said, and they pledged to work with other countries to help them establish marine protected areas in their own waters.

Source: ENS