APEC to meet on ocean conservation
By Environmental News Network staff
That's a frightening prediction and Asian Pacific governments are taking it seriously. Next week, the first-ever Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative meeting on the role the ocean plays in regional economies will convene.
Hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its counterpart in Japan, the meeting will be held Oct. 12-16 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
What exactly is at stake? For one thing, commercial fishing generates more than $20 billion annually in the U.S. alone. In addition, travel and tourism produce $21 trillion in total world demand and 89 million jobs.
Who does it impact? The short answer, of course, is all of us, if we run out of fish. But also, about two-thirds of the world's population -- 3.6 billion people -- live within 60 kilometers of the coast and many nations depend directly on the sea for their survival, whether through fishing, maritime trade or tourism.
In 1996, U.S. trade with Asia and the Pacific totaled $920.8 billion, roughly 65 percent of U.S. trade with the world.
APEC was established in 1989 to promote economic integration in the Pacific region and to sustain economic growth. There are now 18 member countries, with 10 working groups, each focused on a different aspect of the economy. The meeting in Hawaii will be among those responsible for policies related to ocean resources.
Representatives from Australia, Chile, Canada, China, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, in addition to the U.S. and Japan, have been mandated to negotiate preliminary agreements on ocean conservation and management. It is hoped that a final resolution will result at the annual ministerial APEC meeting taking place next month in Malaysia. President Clinton will attend that meeting.
"The meeting will focus on three topics: improving coastal development and marine resource protection, ensuring safe and sustainable fisheries and supporting research on global climate monitoring and forecasting as they relate to fisheries," said Thomas Laughlin, deputy director of the NOAA Office of International Affairs. Other topics open for discussion include:
The Hawaii conference, titled Sustainable Oceans: Realizing the Opportunities for APEC Economies, represents the will of the APEC members to work together in promoting the health of the oceans and seas. Let's wish them luck.
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