World Wildlife Day 2019, which falls on 3 March, focuses on marine species and aligns closely with the Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life below water. It is an opportunity to raise awareness about the breathtaking diversity of marine wildlife, the benefitsit brings to our everyday lives as well as ways to ensure that it can continue to do so for generations to come.
CITES Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero, said: “This is the first World Wildlife Day that focuses on life below water. We are all striving to achieve the same objective of sustainability: for people and planet – where wildlife, be it terrestrial or marine, can thrive in the wild while also benefiting people. We, here at CITES, will continue to work tirelessly to ensure international trade in CITES-listed marine species is legal, sustainable and traceablefor people, planet and prosperity.”
The benefits of marine and coastal resources are enormous. Over 3 billion people depend on these resources for their livelihoods globally. The market value of marine and coastal resources and related industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year, about 5% of global GDP. Alarmingly, despite its critical importance, life below water faces many threats, amongst them an area of primary concern for CITES, which is their unsustainable exploitation for international trade. Over 30% of commercially exploited marine fish stocks are overfished.
“5 to 12 million tonnes of plastic now enter the ocean every year, threatening the health of countless species – from the smallest zooplankton to the largest whales. 90% of large predators have already been taken out of the ocean by overfishing, some 30% of fish stocks are overexploited, and over 500 hypoxic areas have become ‘dead zones’ uninhabitable for most species,” said UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “To reverse this, a literal ‘sea change’ is required in how we manage both ocean and land-based activities, across sectors ranging from fisheries to agriculture to waste management.”
FAO Assistant-Director General, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Árni M. Mathiesen, said: “FAO welcomes the decision to focus on marine species at this year’s World Wildlife Day, as it builds on international recognition of the importance of conserving and sustainably using life under water. FAO and CITES continue to work jointly on CITES species listings, supporting countries and ensuring that decisions complement established fisheries management approaches worldwide.”
“Each year we throw about 8 million metric tons of plastic into the ocean. That means that every minute a garbage truck worth of plastic makes its way to the sea. Some of this plastic remains in its original form, while much more is broken down into microplastics that are consumed by fish and other creatures, eventually finding their way into our own food, our own water.” said President of UN General Assembly as a message on World Wildlife Day.
This World Wildlife Day 2019 focusing on marine species, will be a chance to highlight the crucial importance and value of marine wildlife to our everyday lives, to celebrate successful initiatives to conserve and sustainably manage these species and to scale up support for such initiatives.
Happy Wildlife Day !