Saving Our Ocean

The Ocean in South America and worldwide is in danger. A recent study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) highlights the perils of ocean warming for humans. It points out that that the waters of the Southern Hemisphere are increasingly impacted by higher temperatures, leading to changing fish stocks and crop yields, extreme weather events and higher risk from water-borne diseases. The Chilean coast has become increasingly colder as the high seas warm up, leading to the migration of species, and to other effects upon the marine environment. Whales, turtles and birds are all feeling the changes, as are our fishermen, who must seek new fishing grounds.

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©Viviana Urra, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile

The Chilean government is taking action, along with the private sector, the international community and national and international NGOs. On August 24th, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with the Ministries of Defense, Economy, and the Environment, inaugurated the Council of Ministers for the Development of a National Ocean Policy. This initiative aims at creating an integrated and inclusive oceanic policy and is a new step towards fulfilling our commitment to the international governance of the oceans. We are placing our sea at the forefront of our foreign policy.

In addition, Chile actively participated in the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, whose objective number 14 refers to oceanic sustainability. We also led, along with France and Monaco, the adoption of the "Because the Ocean" declaration at the CoP21, which highlights the essential role oceans play in the fight against climate change, and in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Last October, Chile organized the second version of the Our Ocean initiative, at which countries and civil society adopted more than 80 projects, equivalent to 2.1 billion dollars, dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of the ocean.

In the lead up to this year´s third Our Ocean Conference, in Washington DC, Chile created the new Marine Park Nazca-Desventuradas, which has a surface area of 300 thousand square kilometers and surrounds the Islands of San Félix and San Ambrosio, making it the largest marine protected area in Latin America. In parallel, along with the Rapa Nui community of Easter Island, we are moving forward on a huge marine conservation area surrounding the island.

We have also taken measures to fight illegal fishing, including the adoption of monitoring mechanisms coherent with the New York Agreement on Fish Stocks of 1995 and the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures.

We will continue to stress the importance of developing an oceanic policy to solidify the foundations of our future actions, emphasizing the conservation and sustainable use of our ocean and its resources, the fight against marine pollution, and the effects of climate change in the ocean, with a special emphasis on marine protected areas. This policy will not only establish national guidelines for oceanic matters, but also project them into the international arena, including through South-South cooperation programs to fight marine pollution in areas like the Caribbean.

We know that the ocean is a gathering point for the planet, for people and for prosperity. This is precisely what drives sustainable development. The fate of Chile, an oceanic country, and of many others, is directly tied to the measures we take today to address global warming. We are confident that growing awareness is leading to a greater worldwide commitment towards this goal. Action to save our ocean admits no delay.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in partnership with Secretary of State John Kerry's Our Oceanconference and Ocean Unite, an initiative to unite and activate powerful voices for ocean-conservation action. The series is being produced to coincide with the Our Ocean Conference (September 15th, 16th) as part of HuffPost's "What's Working" initiative, putting a spotlight on initiatives around the world that are solutions oriented. To read all the posts in the series, read here. The State Department does not endorse the content of this blog. Follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #OurOcean #MakeASplash.