At first UN Ocean Conference, island nations plead for help

 Kiribati, in the central Pacific, is one of many small island nations dealing with climate change, pollution and overfishing.

Story highlights

  • Because of climate change, pollution and overfishing, island nations find their friend the ocean also is a foe
  • At UN Ocean Conference, the goal is to "make the long to-do list" of tasks to fix the ocean

United Nations (CNN)If they were making another movie sequel, this planet-threatening adventure would be called "Oceans Attack."

For small island countries, the ocean can be an imposing and valuable friend, but increasingly, because of climate change, pollution and overfishing, humans have transformed the gigantic oceans of the planet into rising, junk-filled threats.
This week the United Nations is hosting its first large-scale conference devoted to protecting and saving the oceans. The Ocean Conference co-chairwoman, deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Isabella Lovin, said, "We know the ocean is broken. We now need to sit together the next five days and make the long to-do list we all need to be ticking off, together, in order to fix it."
    Funafuti Atoll in Tuvalu is 15 feet above sea level at its highest point, rising sea levels are putting it at risk.
    Ministers from tiny island states such as Palau, Fiji and Tuvalu, some in business suits, others in native island shirts, arrived to make the case that the lives of their citizens, thousands of miles away, are more at risk than ever.
    "Time is running out to save our seas and oceans," said Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. He told the United Nations gathering that the Pacific Ocean runs through his blood. But "it pains me deeply to have witnessed the rapid deterioration during my own lifetime of this precious resource, the economic lifeblood of our people."